Democratic backsliding in Georgia?

Is there a risk of further democratic backsliding?

As if the failure to amend the electoral code was not enough of a setback, majoritarian MPs from the GD have decided to seek reform in the other direction. They are working on a bill to transform the mixed electoral system to a fully majoritarian voting system. This may sound like a lost cause from the very beginning, given that the constitution guarantees a move to a fully proportional vote from 2024, yet it could also turn out as a smart plan.

On 25 November, Kakha Kaladze, the secretary general of the GD, stated that the ruling party is unwilling to consider any new initiatives to amend the constitution, and that the parliamentary elections in 2020 will be held in accordance with the current mixed system. The best-case scenario for the GD would be to switch to the winner-takes-all majoritarian system. However, having threatened that some of its MPs are demanding a fully majoritarian system after 2020, the GD might try to “achieve a consensus”, amend the constitution again, and return to a mixed vote in 2024.

This second-best outcome would give them a chance to stay in power until 2028. Consequently, a deterioration of Georgia’s democracy in terms of concentration of power is a very likely scenario. That is why it is important that the country’s partners, such as Germany and the European Union, do not ignore these developments, but rather ensure that the GD agrees to a reform of the electoral system based on popular consensus.

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