The joint opinion of the Venice Commission and OSCE / ODIHR on revised draft amendments to the Election Code of Georgia has already been published.
“Any successful changes to electoral and political party legislation should be built on at least the following three essential elements:
1) a clear and comprehensive legislation that meets international obligations and standards and addresses prior recommendations;
2) the adoption of legislation by broad consensus after extensive public consultations with all relevant stakeholders;
3) the political commitment to fully implement such legislation in good faith.
An open and transparent process of consultation and preparation of such amendments increases confidence and trust in the adopted legislation and in the state institutions in general.
The Venice Commission and ODIHR acknowledge that the revised draft amendments to the Election Code have been prepared in close cooperation between the ruling party and several opposition parties. This is particularly noteworthy against the background of the parliamentary boycott by all elected opposition parties after the parliamentary elections of October 2020 and of the fact that most of the opposition parties had therefore not participated in the preparation of the initial draft amendments assessed in the first Joint Urgent Opinion of 30 April 2021.
The political agreement of 19 April 2021, the return to Parliament by several opposition parties and the revision of the draft amendments to the Electoral Code on the basis of the agreement, with a view to bringing the national legislation into line with international standards and recommendations, are clearly to be welcomed – even though not all elected opposition parties have as yet signed the agreement and taken up their parliamentary mandates”, reads the document.
The Venice Commission and ODIHR underline once again the importance of the stability of electoral law, which is a precondition to public trust in electoral processes and implies that electoral legislation, and especially its fundamental elements, should be amended well before the next elections.
Given that the next local elections are to be conducted in October 2021, the timing of the current reform process is not ideal. It is, however, acceptable against the background of a quite broad political consensus on this reform, which brings the national legislation more in line with international standards and previous recommendations. That said, as has already been stated in the first Joint Urgent Opinion, the practice in Georgia of frequently amending the electoral legislation risks undermining the integrity of the electoral process and ongoing efforts to consolidate democracy. The call for a more comprehensive and systemic reform of the Georgian electoral law is therefore reiterated”, - reads the document.