Strasbourg, Council of Europe - Today the Venice Commission jointly with the OSCE/ODIHR issued the Urgent opinion on the revised draft amendments to the Election Code of Georgia.
The revised draft amendments to the Election Code of Georgia have been prepared in close cooperation between the ruling party and several opposition parties, which is particularly noteworthy against the background of the parliamentary boycott by all elected opposition parties after the October 2020 parliamentary elections and of the fact that most of the opposition parties had therefore not participated in the preparation of the initial draft amendments assessed in the first Joint Urgent Opinion of 30 April 2021.
The political agreement of 19 April 2021, the return to Parliament by several opposition parties and the revision of the draft amendments to the Election Code on the basis of the agreement are clearly to be welcomed, even though not all elected opposition parties have as yet signed the agreement and taken up their parliamentary mandates.
The opinion – as requested by Mr Kakha Kuchava, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia – however contains several recommendations for further revision of the bill, notably concerning the composition of election administration. Furthermore, the opinion stresses that the practice in Georgia of frequently amending electoral legislation risks undermining the integrity of the electoral process and ongoing efforts to consolidate democracy. The opinion calls for more comprehensive and systemic reform of Georgian electoral law, avoiding micromanagement and addressing the remaining concerns and outstanding recommendations.
The Venice Commission and ODIHR underlined that “ownership of the process” can only take place by dialogue amongst all the stakeholders driven by a genuine desire to safeguard and enhance Georgian democracy. Legal opinions can facilitate this process taking place on the ground but are no substitute for it.
The urgent opinion was prepared under the Quick response Mechanism in the framework of the EU/CoE joint programme Partnership for Good Governance, co-funded by the Council of Europe and the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.