08TBILISI403, RULING PARTY AGAINST CHANGING ELECTORAL SYSTEM,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI403 2008-03-11 14:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1585
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0403/01 0711455
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111455Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9074
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000403 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC, AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2018 
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL PHUM GG
SUBJECT: RULING PARTY AGAINST CHANGING ELECTORAL SYSTEM, 
AGAIN 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  The Ambassador and other Embassy officials 
raised the issue of the newly proposed Parliamentary 
electoral system with key MPs on March 11.  Speaker 
Burjanadze told Ambassador Tefft that some in the opposition 
are now calling for a return to the "winner-take-all" system, 
although the most recent proposal to have 75 single-seat 
majoritarian seats and 75 party list seats is now on its 
second reading in Parliament.  Separately, influential MP 
Giga Bokeria told PolEcon Chief that there is "zero chance" 
that the Parliament would change the proposal.  He claimed 
the ruling party had bent over backwards to try to get the 
opposition to negotiate a deal -- including by releasing one 
of the November 7 protesters who was caught on tape smashing 
a rock over the head of a policeman -- only to have the 
opposition miss two opportunities to vote on it.  Separately, 
Bokeria said that the election date would be set within two 
weeks.  He reiterated the seriousness of Russia's lifting of 
the sanctions on Abkhazia, calling it the "next chapter of 
annexation" and saying that Georgia would not tolerate it. 
End summary. 
 
2. (C) On March 11, Ambassador raised with Speaker Burjanadze 
the newly proposed and controversial Parliamentary electoral 
system.  Burjanadze said that some in the opposition are now 
calling for Parliament to return to the "winner-take-all" 
system.  Still, the Parliament's proposal for 75 single-seat 
majoritarian seats and 75 party list seats was already in its 
second hearing.  Although she indicated that negotiations 
continued, influential MP Giga Bokeria told PolEcon Chief the 
same day that there is "zero chance" that Parliament would 
change its proposal.  He claimed that the ruling United 
National Movement (UNM) had bent over backwards to try to get 
the opposition to negotiate a deal -- including by releasing 
one of the November 7 protesters who was caught on tape 
smashing a rock over the head of a policeman -- only to have 
a the opposition miss two opportunities to change the system 
by failing to show up to vote on it. 
 
3. (C) Bokeria said that UNM had serious opposition within 
his own party to the earlier proposal for 50 single-seat 
majoritarian seats and 100 party list seats as there had been 
representatives to Parliament from all 75 districts since 
Georgia's independence.  These people did not want to give up 
their seats.  We gave Bokeria a copy of an analysis of the 
district populations (sent to EUR/CARC) which showed that 
under the proposal the UNM could win 88 percent of the seats 
with only 54 percent of the vote assuming district's vote 
roughly in the same proportions as the presidential 
elections.  This likely result was also due in part to the 
fact that the pro-UNM rural districts have more seats 
relative to their populations than urban areas.  Bokeria 
conceded that the earlier proposal was better for the 
opposition, speculating that it would have given the 
opposition 40 seats out of 150 rather than the likely 35 they 
will obtain under the current one.  When we suggested that 
this current proposal would likely perpetuate the dominance 
of a single party, which was not helpful to Georgian 
democracy overall, Bokeria countered that the problem is that 
reform would stop should the opposition gain enough seats to 
block ruling party votes.  A real opposition to UNM, he said, 
would come out of its break-up, rather than out of the 
existing opposition parties. 
 
4. (C) On elections more generally, we gave Bokeria a copy of 
the OSCE Ambassadors letter and election checklist (sent to 
EUR/CARC).  He said that the elections would be set within 
two weeks, with the elections to take place 60 days from that 
date.  Although the electoral code was not complete, it would 
be done by the time the election is called.  We urged Bokeria 
against changing the protocols in ways which would make them 
less transparent, by for example, taking off data such as the 
number of registered voters.  Bokeria said that the 
Parliament is working to simplify the protocols by placing 
everything on one page but would not take away information. 
He said that there would also be opposition representation in 
the District Election Commissions (a key demand of the 
opposition) and that they would eliminate same-day 
registrants, which were the source of a lot of problems 
during vote tabulation. 
 
5. (C) Bokeria raised Russia's March 7 lifting of sanctions 
on Abkhazia, calling the step "very, very serious."  He saw 
the move the "next chapter of annexation" and said that 
Georgia would not tolerate it.  When asked whether he thought 
things between Russia and Georgia would be better under 
President Medvedev, Bokeria said he had been optimistic but 
now believed that the whole recent meeting between Presidents 
Putin and Saakashvili took place in order to allow Russia to 
 
TBILISI 00000403  002 OF 002 
 
 &#x000A
;say that it had warned Georgia that Russia was going to lift 
sanctions on Abkhazia. 
TEFFT

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