Mikhail Saakashvili: Lowering Parliament barrier would increase corruption

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili does not agree with the recommendation of the European Council General Secretary Walter Shwimmer to lower the 7% barrier for participation of political parties in parliament. Shwimmer, who is currently in Georgia on an official visit, recommended that the barrier be lowered to 4-5% because the parliament risks becoming a single party entity after the March 28 elections.

Yesterday, Saakashvili said that he was against lowering the 7% barrier because 'it would facilitate corruption.' He said that small opposition parties would then gain membership in parliament which would tear apart the body by lobbying for their business interests. 'They will make criminal dealings with one and other,' said Saakashvili.

48 political parties and blocks intend to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Saakashvili said, however, that not one has enough support to gain membership in parliament under the current system. In recent weeks, several of the more popular parties have united into blocks. Saakashvili's National Movement and Prime Minister Zurab Zhvaniya's Democrats will participate as one united block.

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