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Thousands Rally Outside Georgian Parliament After Failure Of Electoral Reform Measure


Georgian Opposition Demonstrates For Election Reform
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Georgian Opposition Demonstrates For Election Reform

TBILISI -- Thousands of Georgians have jammed the streets outside parliament as demonstrators voiced anger over lawmakers' rejection of a new electoral reform measure.

No violence was reported in the November 17 demonstration in downtown Tbilisi, which saw people waving Georgian, NATO, and European Union flags as they listened to speeches from opposition leaders. Riot police stood by on the square's outskirts.

Opposition groups have tried to build momentum in an effort to pressure lawmakers into reversing their November 14 vote, which called for speeding up the switch to full proportional representation for parliament. The legislature currently has proportional representation for about half of the body's seats.

The shift was scheduled to happen in 2024, but opposition parties demanded it be accelerated because, they say, the current system unfairly favors the ruling Georgian Dream party.

The failed measure prompted protests on November 14, with crowds and activists also gathering outside parliament and blocking traffic on Tbilisi's main thoroughfare.

The vote also prompted criticism from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi.

The Georgian Dream party, including its billionaire founder and leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, backed the accelerated reforms, but the measure still failed to pass.

That prompted some lawmakers, including deputy speaker Tamar Khangoshvili, to resign from the party.

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