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Whilst talking about Georgia’s parliamentary elections system, the Secretary General of the New Rights Party, Mamuka Katsitadze, stated that Georgia is a unique country as it incorporates both majoritarian and proportional list MPs in its unicameral legislative structure. According to Mr Katsitadze, none of Europe’s democratic countries have both majoritarian as well as proportional list MPs in a unicameral legislative structure. He thereby explained that only two other countries have such as system; these being Belarus and Azerbaijan. Mr Katsitadze said that the Government of Georgia should not being going in the direction of Belarusian or Azerbaijani democracy.

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of this statement.

Georgia’s legislative structure is a unicameral parliament. According to Article 4 of the Constitution of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia will become bicameral after creating the necessary conditions (reunifying the country) and establishing local government structures; namely, the Republican Council and the Senate. The Republican Council will consist of proportional list MPs whilst the Senate will include MPs elected in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, the Autonomous Republic of Ajara and other Georgian territorial units as well as by five members appointed by the President of Georgia.

FactCheck

studied the parliamentary models and parliamentary elections systems of various European countries. A large number of European legislative structures are bicameral. Most of them are constitutional monarchies or federal states. Countries such as the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Russia and Poland, among others, have bicameral legislative structures. The majoritarian system is usually used to elect MPs in the upper chambers of the structures (House of Lords in the UK, Senate in the USA and Bundesrat in Germany).

As for Georgia, opposition parties and various non-governmental organisations have, upon numerous occasions, called upon the Government of Georgia to reform the acting elections system before the 2016 parliamentary elections. Most of these demands concerned the abolition of the majoritarian system. In its resolution, entitled The Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Georgia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called upon all political forces to agree upon an elections system which would be based upon a wide consensus and strengthen the pluralist nature of the country’s political institutions. In connection to this, the Assembly invites all appropriate individuals to consider the proportional-regional elective system which will be based upon open lists and appears to be favoured by most (if not all) political parties in the country.

Reforming the elections system, specifically by abolishing the majoritarian system, was a pre-elections promise of the Georgian Dream coalition. FactCheck wrote

about this issue earlier as well. Despite the aforementioned situation, the Parliamentary Majority postponed the abolition of the majoritarian elections system until 2020. According to their initiative, instead of abolishing the existing system for the 2016 parliamentary elections, the barrier necessary to win in majoritarian constituencies is planned to be increased and constituencies themselves reformed.

Mamuka Katsitadze spoke about European countries with unicameral legislative structures and so our study takes a look at them as well. In April 2015, at the request of the inter-party group working on elections system reform, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) formulated a brief overview of the parliamentary electoral systems of certain European countries. IFES reviewed the electoral systems of ten European countries including:  Croatia, Estonia, Macedonia, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova and Turkey.

The countries studied by IFES have administrative-territorial orders similar to Georgia and unicameral parliaments. Elections in these countries are held using the proportional electoral system. FactCheck

also studied other European countries with unicameral parliaments. Apart from the ten countries listed above, Denmark, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Albania, Cyprus, Greece and Malta also use the proportional systems.

Mamuka Katsitadze further gives exceptions among European countries which use mixed electoral systems for unicameral parliaments. He indicates that such countries comprise only Belarus and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani electoral system is definitely similar to the Georgian one; however, in the case of Belarus, the country’s legislative structure, the National Assembly, is bicameral. The upper chamber is the Republican Council whilst the lower one is called the Chamber of Representatives. It should also be noted that apart from Azerbaijan, there are other exceptions among European countries with unicameral legislative structures where these structures are elected using a mixed system. Armenia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Hungary also have electoral systems

similar to the Georgian one (see the map).

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Conclusion

From its independence to present day, the Parliament of Georgia has been a unicameral legislative structure. In addition, the Constitution of Georgia establishes that the Parliament of Georgia will be bicameral after creating the necessary conditions (reunifying the country) and establishing local government structures.

The mixed electoral system is used mostly by those European countries which have bicameral legislative structures. In the case of unicameral parliaments, however, holding proportional system elections is a prevalent trend.

The context of Mamuka Katsitadze’s statement is correct; however, it includes several factual errors. For example, Belarus, about which he spoke in his statement, has a mixed elections system due to the fact that its legislative structure is, in fact, bicameral. FactCheck

also found that apart from Azerbaijan, there are European countries which use mixed electoral systems whilst having unicameral legislative structures.

FactCheck concludes that Mamuka Katsitadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.