Electoral Preferences
21 August, 2015
Electoral Preferences
Call them as you wish but ask of them as much as, for example, the American people are asking of senators and congressman of their choice! I am talking about the so called majoritarian election rule within the electoral system of Georgia, which has always been the apple of discord between political parties, especially in electoral seasons. Periodically, and depending on certain real-time political circumstances, some of those parties are happy and poised for winning, and some of them feel
unhappy and casual about their electoral chances, based on what the national electoral system suggests in a given electoral event. There is no immediate need to remind ourselves that there are two ways of getting elected in the Georgian legislative body, called parliament, but I am still opening the piece with this quick little reminder for making things as clear as possible right from the start. One, the most popular and the easiest way to get in there is a party list. If a party wins elections, then the entire bunch of future parliamentarians on the party list will happily and comfortably be ensconced on the bandwagon. And God only knows what kind of future legislators are hauled into the parliament with the help of that electoral vehicle – sometimes, totally unlikely and out-of-place ones. In the land of the Soviets, every housewife must be able to rule the state or any cook must know how to run the country – was one of the most popular catchphrases in times of rampant bolshevism at some weird point in history. Reversely, if a party loses the electoral bout, then the candidates of parliamentary membership, sitting on the party list, are washed down the tubes of history momentarily, ridden to complete oblivion until a new attempt is made by them to give another political tweet. The other way of getting elected is called ‘majoritarian’ – a rather new word in the Georgian political lexicon which should mean that the elected person represents the majority of his or her constituency. Well, if Georgian electors like the word and are comfortable with its everyday usage, why should I care much? Let them have it and enjoy it, but the word still sounds not very much in kilter to me personally, although my etymological qualms should not matter much here. It is probably more important to perceive what we are having to do with in the first place.

If every legislator is elected on individual basis in Georgia, the parliament may turn into a real Tower of Babel where as many opinions will reign as there are the sitting members in there.

As a matter of fact, most politicians and political experts are for abrogating the currently functioning majoritarian electoral rule in Georgia, thinking that the majoritarian deputies are major loafers in the country’s parliament who are not timely and adequately reflection g the problems and aspirations of their electors. How on earth can this be possible? If a person is elected – whether a majoritarian or a party list dweller – shouldn’t he or she feel dutiful to fulfill his other obligation as the people’s choice and do his job as he should? What gives any deputy a right not to work in full compliance with his job description? Why can’t the deputies be kicked out of the parliament if they are not functioning accordingly, exactly the way they were dragged in? What does election have to do with this? You elect – you recall! OK, the parliamentary behavior of elected legislators is a very important subject to discuss, but this time I am going to touch upon the horse of a totally different color – the electoral preferences in Georgia: why is the proportional – a.k.a. party list – system given such a big privilege over the majoritarian system of election? In the United States for instance, where the electoral system is as old as hills and as solid as rocks, the entire Congress is elected on individual basis: a candidate goes out campaigning independently, and does this either to the benefit or to the detriment of his political career, being completely responsible for whatever he is up to. And the electors are absolutely aware who they are voting for. Our majoritarian system is quite comparable to this American electoral phenomenon, but for some reason most of us in Georgia are allergic to it. I do not exactly know why, but I have my somewhat educated suspicions. The proportional or party-list system is preferred because it provides a chance to push into the national legislative body a definite number of adherents to a party cause, which is later used as a tool to perpetuate that particular party’s ideals on national level – the ultimate dream and bottom-line for any political group in the country. This also creates a prerequisite for necessary consensus in the parliament, which is always needed to adopt certain good and wise laws. If every legislator is elected on individual basis in Georgia, the parliament may turn into a real Tower of Babel where as many opinions will reign as there are the sitting members. Whatever the situation, I am still in favor of the disfavored in Georgia majoritarian electoral rule because it will save us from the presence of unqualified and undereducated law makers in the country’s parliament, whose presence there is used not for actual participation in the legislative process but only for supporting their own parties’ aspirations against other political powers. At the same time, I admit that there might be some serious reasons for the above described political idiosyncrasy – defiance of the majoritarian electoral rule.

Author: Nugzar B. Ruhadze
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