Scrapping of election bill splits Georgian Dream

Scrapping of election bill splits Georgian Dream

Seven MPs have left the Georgian Dream ruling party, including Vice Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili, after the party proposed election bill was scrapped earlier today.

"It was very hard to make the decision. I would not have taken the responsibility for the decision. I think that my step is right. The ruling party had known about my position regarding the issue,” Chugoshvili said.

Except for Chugoshvili, MPs Irina Pruidze, Giorgi Mosidze, Dimitri Tskitishvili, Tamar Khulordava, Sophio Katsarava and Zaza Khutsishvili have left the Georgian Dream party.

The bill which offered the conduct of 2020 parliamentary elections with a fully proportional voting system and a zero threshold has been voted for by 101 MPs instead of mandatory 113 earlier today.

Three MPs of the ruling party voted against the bill and 37 others abstained from voting.

The opposition which supported the bill has vowed the “largest ever street rallies.”

The ruling party accepted the conduct of 2020 parliamentary elections on a fully proportional system amid the June public protests, also offering a zero election threshold.

Political scientist Gela Vasadze, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that when analyzing the situation, one should take into account the fact that the Georgian Dream MPs, including the majority, are controlled by the billionaire, unspoken leader of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, which means they could not vote against the electoral reform of their own free will.

“The problem is that the authorities have promised a transition from a mixed system to a proportional voting system for many years. A mixed system always let the ruling party win (the exception was 2012). And today Bidzina Ivanishvili found himself in the same position as in 2016, when it was necessary to create the appearance of what Western partners call procedural democracy, because it is impossible for a democratic country always have the same party in power," he said.

"In my opinion, the vote today was failed because Ivanishvili at some point realized that he would not be able to create reliable satellite parties in a fairly short period of time. Therefore, it was decided to leave things as they are for the 2020 parliamentary elections," Gela Vasadze added.

“Now the situation can develop in any scenario: starting from early elections to mass protests and pressure on parliament to still adopt this bill. The fact is that the ruling party and the authorities as a whole are in a serious political crisis,” he warned.

"The Georgian Dream, in fact, has exhausted itself as the only ruling force. And it is important to understand that not only Ivanishvili, but also other political forces hoped for a coalition government. They were preparing for the coalition seriously and for a very long time. And now they see that nothing changes - this is a very serious blow to the political system of Georgia," the political scientist concluded.