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Thousands Protest In Tbilisi After Parliament Rejects Electoral Reform

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Demonstrators gather at the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi on the evening of November 14.
Demonstrators gather at the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi on the evening of November 14.

TBILISI -- Thousands of people are protesting in the center of the Georgian capital to vent their anger over the parliament’s rejection of an electoral reform that was demanded by protesters this summer.

The constitutional amendment on the transition to a proportional electoral system was rejected in its first reading on November 14 as the number of supporting votes failed to reach the required minimum of 113.

Crowds of opposition supporters and activists later gathered outside the parliament building in Tbilisi and blocked traffic on the city's main thoroughfare, calling for the government's resignation and snap parliamentary elections.

Changing the electoral system from a mixed system to a proportional one from 2020 was one of the demands of thousands of demonstrators who rallied for weeks in Tbilisi in June and July.

More than 240 people were injured when riot police officers fired rubber bullets and water cannons to turn back an angry crowd that was trying to storm the parliament.

The leader of the Georgian Dream party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, had announced the party's readiness to reform the electoral regulations.

But only 101 lawmakers voted for the bill, while the text needed at least 113 votes to pass.

Deputies blasted sirens at their rivals in a show of opposition after the chamber failed to pass the amendment.

Sirens Blare In Georgian Parliament After Key Opposition Demand Is Rejected
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The parliament speaker, Archil Talakvadze, said after the session that the 2020 parliamentary elections will be held under a mixed system.

Members of Georgia's parliamentary majority, including Deputy Speaker Tamar Khangoshvili, who voted for the bill, resigned from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, while other parliamentary parties called for street protests.

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