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EU, US call for dialogue as protests in Georgia continue

The US embassy in Tbilisi and the European Union’s delegation to Georgia have released a joint statement, calling for “respectful dialogue” over the Georgian parliament’s refusal to introduce a proportional election system, the Georgian media has reported.

“The decision taken last summer to accelerate the transition to proportional elections was understood as an important step forward in Georgia’s democracy, and there was political consensus behind it and a joint commitment from all sides to work towards this end,” the joint statement read, noting that the unexpected failure of the reform to pass the country’s parliament “has increased mistrust and heightened tensions.”

On November 17, two different rallies were held by the Georgian opposition and civil society organisations, demanding that the next parliamentary elections in the country (scheduled for 2020) are held using a fully proportional system instead. Protesters blocked the entrances to Georgia’s parliament before dispersed by riot police.

Under the current electoral system, 77 Georgian MPs are elected by party lists and 73 are elected through constituencies. The bill would have allowed for a fully proportional system for the country’s next elections in 2020.

Georgia’s opposition parties have vowed to continue protesting until the reforms are implemented.