Given the restriction on pre-electoral blocs, what are the risks of applying a 5% legal threshold to the 2024 parliamentary elections?
On April 19, 2021, the representatives of the political parties of Georgian parliament, with the mediation of the president of the European Council, signed an agreement - "A Way Ahead for Georgia", one of its sections being a call for an ambitious electoral reform. Following the Agreement, changes were introduced to the Election Code of Georgia for the local self-government elections. In addition, a draft constitutional amendment was prepared in July 2021 regarding the rules of holding parliamentary elections in Georgia, but its fate remains uncertain. The draft law stipulates that the Parliament of Georgia should be formed with a fully proportional electoral system even in case of holding snap elections by 2024. Furthermore, the threshold for the next two elections should be lowered from 5 percent to 2 percent. Prior to the ratification of the amendment, the existing 5 percent threshold imposed by the current edition of the Constitution represents a substantial obstacle for the parties since, unlike in past elections, they would be unable to create pre-electoral blocs in the upcoming one.
The proportional electoral system has a number of benefits over the previous parallel mixed system. Opposition political parties and civil society have long advocated for a change of Georgia's electoral system, including during the previous government. However, the adoption of a fully proportional electoral system for the 2024 elections and the introduction of a high-level threshold and a ban on electoral blocs creates risks of wasting a significant portion of the votes, dramatically increasing disproportionality of election results, and reducing the number of parliamentary parties. This paper examines the risks and challenges involved with holding elections per the present regulation and provides evidence for the immediate implementation of the proposed modifications.