Thousands protest election reform failure in Georgia
On 17 November 2019, two protest demonstrations took place in Tbilisi against the failure of the electoral reform. 20 political forces, including opposition parties, gathered on the First Republic Square and went to the parliament building.
According to local media, the protest gathered more than 20 thousand demonstrators. They demanded from the government to introduce a proportional election system, which Georgia wants to abandon.
Another condition was the holding of early elections in the country.
The procession began in different parts of the capital and ended at the walls of the Georgian authorities. Another protest “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” was held on Rustaveli Avenue near the Opera and Ballet Theater and gathered hundreds of protesters. Their demands didn’t differ from the main audience of the protesters. But they didn’t go out to the protest with the party of the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Protesters accused the authorities of the failure of the electoral reform. In the summer, the Georgian Dream presidential party, under pressure from protesters, announced its rejection of parliamentary elections under the majority system. But already on November 14, the draft law on holding elections on a proportional system didn’t gain the required number of votes, not even breaking the zero barrier.
Many thousands of protesters put forward demands for the resignation of the ruling Georgian Dream party, a change of government, and re-election of the Central Election Commission.
Some protesters pitched tents. As a special sign, they hung symbolic locks on the parliament gates. And stayed on the ground for the night to continue the protest. They threatened the authorities to continue the picket and prevent the deputies of the ruling party from getting to their jobs.
One of the leaders of the opposition party “European Georgia” Gigi Ugulava, said that he wouldn’t allow the government to return to the building of the legislative body.
– “If the blockage of the parliament won’t be enough, tomorrow it will be the city hall, the chancellery, regional centers and cities. Until the early elections according to the proportional system, not a single state official will be able to freely fulfill his duties”, – Ugulava emphasized.
During the dispersal of the protesters by the police, 37 protesters were detained. Law enforcement authorities accused them of disobeying the police.
The case of the detainees was considered in the Tbilisi City Court. The process was led by a judge on duty, Valerian Pilishvili. After 12 hours of the trial, the protesters were released from the courtroom.
However, the released protesters immediately announced their intention to continue to picket the walls of the city government until their demands are met.
According to experts, the situation in Georgia is uncertain, since the positions of the ruling party are strong enough, so it’s not going to give up. This means that soon it’s likely that protests will continue on the part of the opposition forces and their accomplices.