Georgia: Venice Commission Publishes Two New Opinions

CoE/Venice Commission

The Venice Commission has published two new opinions on Georgia adopted at the latest plenary session: the Opinion on amendments to the Election Code abolishing gender quotas and the Follow-up opinion to the December 2023 joint opinion by the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the draft amendments to the Election Code and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament.

Regarding amendments to the Election Code of Georgia abolishing gender quotas, the Venice Commission stresses that international standards recognise positive obligations of the State to ensure gender equality - as did the Constitutional Court of Georgia in a judgment of 2020, in which it confirmed the constitutionality of the temporary gender quotas as far as their applicability to women was concerned. The 2020 amendments introducing gender quotas for candidate lists in parliamentary and local elections as well as the financial incentives for political parties were in line with previous recommendations of the Venice Commission, but they have now been abolished without being replaced by any other measures aimed at facilitating the election of women candidates.

While each country can decide how to improve gender equality in democratic institutions, including the Parliament, it has been demonstrated that gender quotas can influence women's parliamentary representation, and they are not contrary to the principle of equal suffrage if they have a constitutional basis, as in Georgia. The Venice Commission thus recommends taking special temporary measures to improve women's representation in Parliament and in local councils (Sakrebulos), such as the re-introduction of gender quotas or other recognised methods for facilitating the election of women candidates, so that current percentages of women who are elected are increased substantially.

As for the follow-up opinion concerning the draft amendments to the Election Code and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, the Venice Commission is highly concerned that none of its recommendations has been taken on board by the Georgian authorities, not even partly. The Commission stresses once again that the - now adopted - amendments are clearly insufficient to ensure a consensus-based political process which is crucial for the independence and impartiality of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and for public trust in this institution. One of the major concerns is related to the new anti-deadlock mechanism for filling vacant positions, which provides for the possibility of two additional rounds of voting under which the candidates can be elected by simple majority, and which bears the risk that the ruling party alone can elect the (non-partisan) CEC members and Chairperson.

Press release

Georgia: two new Venice Commission opinions on Election Code abolishing gender quotas and on the composition of the Central Election Commission published

Venice Commission and Georgia

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