Georgia: Opinion of the Venice Commission on the electoral code and the election of Supreme Court judges
Proposed amendments to the Georgia Election Code include some positive changes but raise new concerns that add to long-standing fundamental problems that remain unanswered, the Venice Commission and the OSCE / ODIHR in their joint urgent notice on draft amendments to Georgia’s electoral code published on April 30, 2021.
The Venice Commission and ODIHR stress the importance of stability of electoral law, which is a prerequisite for public confidence in electoral processes and implies that electoral legislation, and in particular its basic elements, should be amended well before the next elections. The practice in Georgia of frequently changing electoral legislation risks undermining the integrity of the electoral process and ongoing efforts to consolidate democracy, they note. In addition, the timing of the changes currently proposed, less than a year before the next local elections scheduled for the second half of 2021, is causing concern.
In a separate emergency opinion on the appointment of Supreme Court judges, published on April 29, 2021, the Venice Commission welcomed the changes to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts, which took into account several of its previous recommendations. Nevertheless, some outstanding recommendations should be taken into account in order to ensure even more clarity of the legislation, transparency and fair treatment for all applicants. Regarding pre-selection and voting, the Venice Commission welcomed the amendments for explicitly mentioning the principle of equal treatment of candidates, pre-selecting only the candidates with the best results and disclosing the identity of voting members of the High Council of Justice.
Despite some positive proposals regarding the electoral code, more comprehensive and systemic reform is needed to increase public confidence in the electoral system in Georgia
Venice Commission on the appointment of Supreme Court judges in Georgia: legislative amendments welcome, but improvements needed to ensure meaningful right of appeal and equality