Ambiguity in Election Project
08 September, 2011
Ambiguity in Election Project

Have the Authorities met the terms of Venice Commission?

The main topic of discussion at the autumn Parliamentary session will be planned amendment of elections code.

Despite the fact that all scheduled amendments are known from the agreement between the Authorities and the part of the opposition, the project is not printed on paper so far. Neither is anyone aware if the Authorities have indeed satisfied the requirement of

the Venice Commission to send them a report.

 

After the agreement was reached about the elections, it was said that a certain editorial group would have to transform the agreement items into a corresponding draft law. This group was made up of representatives from the parties which signed the said agreement. It is headed by Pavle Kublashvili, representative of Parliamentary Majority. After it was set up, the group quickly summoned several meetings. However, all they managed to do was that they resolved that the main part of the project would be sent to the Venice Commission for its conclusion by 20 August. In addition, it was said that the Parliament would wait for the conclusion of the Venice Commission before starting the hearings of proposed amendments. Moreover, initially, they chose to send to the Commission information about a part of the proposed amendments which in principle covers all the topics of the agreement, except the one about founding of three commissions. These commissions will be vested with the power to monitor voter lists, non-use of administrative resources for the election and work of media. The original condition was that these issues would have been noted down in early September and forwarded to the Venice Commission in mid- September. More to it, also in early September elaboration of draft constitutional amendment for the Parliamentary hearings, aiming to increase the number of MPs from 150 to 190 was envisaged. It must be noted that the law allows the Government to hold a month-long public scrutiny of any proposed constitutional amendment and to forward the remarks to the Parliament prior to hearings. However, it is noteworthy that none of the above listed conditions was met so far. It is even unknown whether it was the first version of the amendment project, which was sent to the Venice Commission. To this end,  despite our immense efforts to get reply from the Authorities , we have not received any information. Mamuka Katsitadze, representative of the editorial group, hopes that the project was sent actually. As for the issues that need no additional specification and which are already on the table of the Venice Commission, they cover several components, including deadline for resolving of the election disputes, mobile ballot box, and rules of party funding.

According to the current law, decisions made by the commission at an election station can be appealed against within 2 calendar days in the corresponding  district election commission, which shall study the appeal within one calendar day. Decisions of the district election commission can be appealed against within 2 calendar days at a regional or city court. The regional/city court examines the appeal within 2 calendar days. Its decision can also be challenged in 2 calendar days at the court of appeals, which arrives at its verdict within 2 calendar days. Decisions of the court of appeals are final and cannot be changed. The current edition also envisages that the violation of electoral legislation may be challenged in the elections commission. In turn, the decisions of election commissions could be appealed against only at an election commission of higher level. Only after all these steps the case could be taken to the court.

The members of editorial group agreed that courts could be used from the very beginning. Namely, a decision of the election commission can be challenged at a higher election commission or court.

Regarding funding of parties, the agreement provides that a party which passes the 5% barrier during the Parliamentary elections would receive up to 1 million Lari. Proposals on the topic dictate that stationing of the district election commission in a building which hosts a governor and self-governance body, such as Sakrebulo, Gamgeoba and Mayor’s Office should be banned. They also agreed that funding of the representatives of qualified election subjects at district and local election stations on the day of elections will be done with the money allocated to CEC. Each representative will receive 50 Lari at a local election commission. In case of district election commission, it will be 100 Lari. This sum will be transferred to the account of the election campaign fund of the election subject no later than 5 days before the voting. The threshold for voluntary contributions in favor of the given party is likely to be doubled.

 

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