08TBILISI509, ELECTION CODE AMENDED FOR MAY 21 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08TBILISI509.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI509 2008-03-26 05:20 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4592
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0509/01 0860520
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260520Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9159
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000509 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: ELECTION CODE AMENDED FOR MAY 21 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 
 
REF: A) TBILISI 444 
 
1. (U) Summary: On March 21, the Parliament of Georgia amended 
Georgia's election code (reftel) by a vote of 134-2.  All but one 
opposition member of Parliament boycotted the proceeding.  The 
deadline for registering political parties is March 26.  This cable 
summarizes the main points of the amendments and their likely 
influence on the election.  End summary. 
 
The Electoral System 
-------------------- 
 
2. (U) The 150-member legislative body is now comprised of 75 
single-mandate "majoritarian" districts and 75 nationwide 
party-list, proportionally-elected seats.  This constitutes the 
opposition's foremost complaint against the government.  They are 
demanding that the 75 single-mandate seats instead be chosen by a 
"regional proportional" system.  Such a system would allocate those 
seats in each region (containing several districts with one seat 
each) proportionally by party.  The Parliament has decided that each 
district's seat will be elected by a majority of the voters in that 
district.  Candidates for majoritarian seats must be presented by 
parties or election blocs registered at the CEC.  Signatures of 
supporters (previously 1,000) are no longer required. 
 
Boundary Problems 
----------------- 
 
3. (U) Unfortunately, Georgia's electoral districts (called 
"rayons") are divided quite unevenly (with districts representing 
between 6,000 and 160,000 voters).  If all 75 districts receive one 
MP, it raises an issue of fairness and "one man, one vote" as 
unequal districts devalue the vote of one citizen in relation to 
another.  Opposition groups are especially upset because Tbilisi is 
under-represented per capita compared to the rest of the country. 
Tbilisi has only 10 of 75 seats, despite being home to one-third of 
the country's population.  It is also where the opposition is 
strongest.  Many observers comment that the 75-single mandate 
constituency structure as passed by Parliament favors the ruling 
party. 
 
The 30% Threshold 
----------------- 
 
4. (U) For the 75 single-mandate seats, the candidate who wins the 
most votes is declared the victor if he has more than 30 percent. 
No runoff election is required.  This means a candidate can win with 
a plurality, rather than a majority of votes.  When there are two or 
three candidates, this system usually does not constitute a 
significant concern.  However, with multiple candidates in a single 
district, this could easily lead to someone winning the seat with 
only 30.1 percent of the vote (meaning nearly 70 percent of the 
constituency did not support that candidate).   The opposition would 
prefer a 50 percent threshold, like the Presidential elections, and 
a run-off of the top two candidates if no one received more than 
half the vote. 
 
Abolishment of Additional Voters List 
------------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) Same day voter registration has been abolished.  Those voters 
who registered at the polls in January have been added to the 
general voters list.  Same day registration and specially counting 
procedures for such votes caused confusion in January and will be 
avoided in the May parliamentary elections. 
 
Structure of District Election Commissions 
------------------------------------------ 
 
6. (U) District Election Commissions (DECs) will now mimic the 
composition of Precinct Election Commissions (PEC) and the CEC, with 
13 total members (7 appointed by the government and 6 appointed by 
opposition parties).  This is a significant improvement over the 
previous structure.  Many of the decisions made by the CEC regarding 
complaints processes during the Presidential elections were 
uniformly 7-6 votes.  Thus, the ruling National Movement party will 
continue to dominate the PECs, DECs, and the CEC. 
 
7. (U) The DECs will also have increased powers, including the right 
to tabulate votes cast in the precincts and the right to cancel 
election results from polling stations. DECs were denied these 
rights during the January 5 presidential election.  Even without 
this authority, the DECs were largely blamed during the presidential 
election for perpetrating fraud and manipulating results (i.e. 
changing the protocols).  On the other hand, the more balanced, 
multi-party composition of the DEC is a safeguard that may help 
prevent such manipulation from occurring. 
 
Protocols 
--------- 
 
TBILISI 00000509  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
8. (SBU) To date, Post has not been able to confirm whether or not 
voting data will be removed from the protocols, where election 
results from the PECs is reported.  Such a move would be undesirable 
as it would reduce the transparency of the election.  On March 19 
and 20, Poloffs stressed to ruling party MPs and the CEC that 
removing key information such as the number of valid
ballots and the 
total number of voters -- which has previously been suggested by the 
CEC "to avoid simple mistakes" -- would be a step backward on the 
part of the government.  We will continue to advocate that the 
protocols require all important information to be included and 
clear. 
 
Disputes and Appeals 
-------------------- 
 
9. (U) Decisions made by PECs and DECs can be appealed to the next 
higher level election commission, and CEC decisions can be appealed 
to the courts in two steps.  First, to the District or City Court, 
and then to the Appeals Court.  The decision of the Appeals Court is 
final.  DECs and PECs cannot finalize their results before the 
disputes have been resolved. 
 
10. (SBU) If appeals sent to the election commissions are faulty 
(i.e. lack certain legal requirements or technical information), the 
commission is obliged to indicate those faults to the claimants and 
indicate a timeframe during which those faults should be corrected. 
Only if these faults are not corrected within the given timeframe 
does the commission have the right to decline consideration of the 
appeal.  This revision is universally seen as a positive step if 
properly implemented. 
 
Miscellaneous Clarification 
--------------------------- 
 
11. (U) The amendments clarify certain terms in the election code, 
including: qualified election subject (a political entity which 
qualifies for funding from the state budget), pre-election campaign, 
pre-election agitation, and majoritarian district.  Furthermore, the 
amendments clarify the rules of administering election funds and the 
terms and use of administrative resources.  Misuse of administrative 
resources was a key charge against the National Movement in the 
presidential elections. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (SBU) On balance, the amendments to the election code are an 
improvement compared to those in effect on January 5.  However, the 
changes must be implemented in good faith for a positive outcome. 
Nearly all outside observers agree that the GOG designed the 
single-mandate districts to the advantage of the ruling National 
Movement. 
 
PERRY

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: