Fresh deal on the table in Georgian elections stand-off

It looks like a deal might have been done in Georgia where street protests have taken place to protest at the lack of promised electoral reform. Parliamentary elections are due to take place in the country at the end of the year.

At the end of last year, lawmakers failed to endorse a promised deal which would have moved the country to a purely list based election and ended the mixed member system where 73 of the 150 seats are elected from constituencies. 

Now there are reports that a new deal with a much reduced number of constituency seats – 30 – is set to be proposed to Parliament. And the threshold for parties to cross before gaining seats is set to be cut from 5% to 1%, leaving the way open for many more groups and factions to be represented.

Constituency seats traditionally favour larger parties and incumbents as they are able to build electoral machines in their neighbourhoods. And in more corrupt countries there is increased opportunity to buy votes. Each constituency will have around 66,000 voters under the proposed deal.

Although opening the way to many more groups and factions entering the parliament can be a very good thing, especially in the short term, it can also lead to a much weaker legislature. If it proves difficult to build a majority coalition then the executive is better able to govern without the risk of parliamentary defeat. With the new system, parties know that they only have to have the votes of about 12,000 people to get a seat via the list. That is good for helping minority communities to get a voice, but may encourage factions within the larger parties to break away and form their own parties.