Georgia is embarking on the gradual lifting of the quarantine on may 18. Tbilisi can’t wait to start the country’s economy affected by the pandemic. Meanwhile, Brussels announced that financial assistance to the country depends on the fulfilment of certain conditions, the center of which is the change in the electoral system. The opposition sought this for a long time, and March 8 parties, with the participation of foreign mediators came to a compromise. However, with the implementation of the plan has problems.
Georgia may 18, proceeds to the gradual removal of the restrictive measures imposed in connection with the pandemic coronavirus.
“On may 18, the restrictions are removed from the point of view of meeting three people in closed and in open spaces. But this does not mean that removed the restriction on moving more than three people in the car. No matter what, preserve this constraint in force, there are important epidemiological sense, what we are told by the doctors, and we believe them”, — said on 14 may, the Prime Minister of the country George Gakharia.
In Georgia was introduced very stringent measures to combat the pandemic, up to the curfew and the penalty for its violation. This restriction remains in force, as the ban on mass meetings. Until may 22 the country has a regime of emergency.
The Georgian authorities are trying to maintain a balance between the protection of the population against coronavirus and minimizing damage caused to the economy by a strict quarantine. Since 15 June, the country will be opened for domestic tourism and from 1 July will be ready to receive and foreign tourists.
Tbilisi, however, looks at the economic consequences of a pandemic with optimism.
“The crisis will cause a lot of tectonic changes in the chains of transportation, in the structuring of supply and demand. This is definitely an opportunity for our country. Now we can turn the strengths of our economy in a competitive advantage that will allow us to break through. This does not mean that we are traveling in some illusions or dreams, no, today Georgia has all the data, to use this crisis as an opportunity, especially in the economy”, — said earlier Gajaria.
However, the economy may face unforeseen circumstances. Recently, Brussels has warned that Georgia may lose a significant part of monetary help from the European Union, if the government does not fulfill its obligations.
“I would like to draw the attention to tremendous support in excess of 500 million euros, which provide the EU and its international partners, to help Georgia in carrying out reforms, the fight against the pandemic COVID-19 and the elimination of its social and economic consequences”,
— recently said Andrius Kubilius, head of the European Parliament delegation in the parliamentary Assembly “Euronest”, created for a rapprochement between the EU and countries-participants of the program “Eastern partnership”.
He noted that financing is provided to Georgia under certain conditions. We are talking about electoral reform. The commitments undertaken by the government, were the result of agreements between the authorities and the opposition on 8 March.
The parties came to the necessity of changing the electoral system in Georgia. So, according to the plan, during the autumn parliamentary elections on the proportional list in the Parliament will be elected 120 deputies and parliamentary constituencies 30 members.
In addition, representatives of the authorities and leaders of opposition parties have agreed that the party that won the parliamentary elections, but scored 40% of voter support, will not be able to form a government, and the threshold will be reduced to 1%.
The agreement signed on March 8, the Georgian opposition took a long time. Changing the electoral system, the opposition forces was achieved with great difficulties, and the dialogue with the government was accompanied by not one wave of protests. As a result, the meeting was held with the help of intermediaries or ambassadors of the United States and the European Union, the Chairman of the Committee on foreign relations of the U.S. Senate James Risha, co-chair of the “Friends of Georgia” in the U.S. Congress Adam Kinzinger, co-chair of the parliamentary Assembly of Euronest parliamentary Assembly, member of European Parliament Andrius Kubilius.
Now Georgia has a mixed electoral system. 77 MPs are on the party lists, and 73 in single — mandate constituencies. The transition to a proportional system was planned by the authorities to 2024, the change was even written into the Constitution. Opposition forces have made every effort to hold next elections under the proportional system.
June 13, representatives from 20 opposition parties introduced in the Parliament of 300 thousand signatures in support of changing the electoral system is, in their opinion, the only way to remove from power the ruling Georgian dream coalition, which is chaired by businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili. It is, after the adoption of Georgia’s new Constitution, definitively turning the country into a parliamentary Republic, called the most powerful man in the country.
However, a statement from the opposition was not considered. Irakli Kobakhidze, who was then Chairman of the Parliament, said that the issue is not negotiable. However, after a week this issue all of a sudden re-surfaced and demanded an immediate solution.
20 June in Tbilisi was held the meeting Megalomanical Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). The event was attended by the Russian delegation, headed by Deputy of the state Duma Communist Sergey Gavrilov. During the meeting he was invited to take a seat head of the Parliament, which is extremely angered the opposition.
On the same day in Georgia sparked the protests. The incident was skillfully used by the opposition. The protesters have put forward four demands: the resignation of the speaker of Parliament and interior Minister Georgi Gajaria, the release of all those detained during the protests and the transition to proportional electoral system.
The next day Irakli Kobakhidze left the post of Chairman of the Parliament. After some time, resigned and George Gakharia is another implementation of the demands of protesters by the authorities. However, as it turned out, the political career of the former head of the interior Ministry has not ended, on the contrary, it was waiting for the promotion to the post of Prime Minister.
And on June 24, the government had agreed to the main demand of the opposition and promised to hold the next parliamentary elections under the proportional system. Moreover, after the government has presented an unexpected gift — is to eliminate the threshold.
“The party “Georgian dream — Democratic Georgia” has initiated a large-scale political reform. The parliamentary elections of 2020 must pass under the proportional system in zero, repeat, zero electoral barrier,” — said Ivanishvili. The protests ended, the opposition began preparing for elections.
Frustrated Bidzina Ivanishvili
To implement the promises of the government of Georgia started in November. Three days the Parliament was considering amendments to the conditions of a fierce discussion. However, the disputes were not between political forces, and, all of a sudden, within the ruling “Georgian dream”.
On the day of the vote of majorities opposed the holding of the forthcoming elections under the proportional system. The adoption of the amendments required 113 votes, but the initiative was supported by only 101 members, three voted against and 37 MPs from the “Georgian dream” simply did not participate in the vote.
The Chairman of the ruling party expressed their disappointment with the results of the vote.
“I’m disappointed that in the end failed to implement our initiative on holding parliamentary elections in 2020 according to the proportional system in zero electoral barrier. Unfortunately, Parliament failed in this initiative because of the protests of one part of the deputation of the “Georgian dream”, mainly majoritarian,” — said Ivanishvili.
The opposition, however, does not believe that the failure of the initiative was the result of a democratic process in the party. Riot majoritarian opposition was seen as part of the plan of the authorities. Indignant, by the way, not only opponents of the ruling party. The Georgian dream coalition in protest, left seven deputies, including Deputy speaker of the Parliament, head of the foreign relations Committee and her Deputy, the head of the Committee for European integration and her Deputy.
Occurring again brought citizens to the streets. Ivanishvili showed disappointment, and the government at this time – the determination not to meet the opposition and protesters.
“Proportional election system is a step forward from the point of view of democratization of our country. The proportional representation system has qualitatively changed the political culture of our country, and it is our decision that we wanted to implement, said Gajaria November 15. Now it was about the election year 2020, but the country will be proportional elections in 2024”.
“I, as leader of the ruling political force, confirmed that I was and will be a supporter of transition to proportional system of elections, and sincerely regret that this has not happened. I will guarantee with my team and the power that the democratic process will become irreversible. Free and fair elections in 2020 will be the condition and example of this,” — says Ivanishvili.
While the country’s shrug, expressing its determination and regret, the opposition resorted to another remedy.
Georgia returns a trust of the European Union
Agree the parties could not, with the result that negotiations were attracted by foreign intermediaries. In December, in Tbilisi was held a two-day Interparliamentary Assembly Euronest. The eighth meeting was first held in Georgia, but for the authorities, this event was overshadowed. The opposition is not only talking about the failure of the promised electoral reform, but also political prisoners who have been detained in the course of the summer protests.
High-ranking foreign guests were openly critical of the government and the ruling party were forced to make excuses.
“You can call whatever you want — political crisis or political events, but when people are on the streets, it means that something goes wrong,’ said Andrius Kubilius. Something that the ruling party had not fulfilled its promises-it is not a normal political action, it is, unfortunately, a step backward, because of which the Georgian people and we, the international community has lost confidence in elections next year.”
Tbilisi dissatisfaction of Brussels heard. The March accords were a confirmation of this fact, however, all the concessions of power to go did not.
“The opposition is required to reduce to 20 the majority of places we have not agreed”, — said in March the speaker of Parliament Archil Talakvadze.
Besides, the opposition demands more – the release of political prisoners — and this week announced a possible breakdown of voting on amendments to the Constitution about the transition to the new electoral system.
“If political prisoners are not released, the responsibility for another failure of the electoral system will fall personally on Ivanishvili and his team. The refusal to release political prisoners means that Ivanishvili has completely derailed the agreement. In these circumstances, the opposition faction were in boycott mode, continue parliamentary boycott,” the statement said more than 30 opposition parties, including the two parliamentary.
The authorities, however, claim that the release of certain persons in agreement States.
“I with full responsibility declare that we are ready to support all those changes which we agreed with the participation of the ambassadors. But if the opposition will derail a deal, it will be solely her responsibility. In the agreement of March 8, there was no mention of political prisoners. This is reflected in the text and anyone can read it. You can also listen to what statements were made by representatives of our team and the opposition. So this arrangement was not in the nature”, — said the Secretary General of the ruling party, the mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze.
As Chairman of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze, the opposition refers to conditions that are not, in order to disrupt the vote on the reform and to discredit the government before the citizens of the country and the West.
One way or another, but the October parliamentary elections will be Georgia real exam before the Western partners. And at stake, as stated by the head of the European Parliament delegation in the parliamentary Assembly “Euronest” is not simply the approval of Europe, but its financial assistance.
“It is important to note that some of the support cost budget will be tied to specific conditions for Georgia, in particular, to the ongoing reforms in the area of rule of law, judicial and electoral systems, — said Andrius Kubilius. — This trust can be strengthened only by achieving progress in the fulfilment of commitments and promises, including those that were reached on 8 March 2020 between all the main political parties in Georgia.”