A proposal for future electoral system of Abkhazia Autonomous Republic – A Path Towards Sustainable Conflict Transformation

G Arziani
27.09.2023 (Caucasian Journal) Caucasian Journal is open to publishing articles contributed by the experts from various fields.  

Our today's author is Giorgi ARZIANI, the founder of Tbilisi School for Social Research, an independent think-tank. 



This year marks 30 years since the de-facto occupation of Abkhazia. In this essay, I will address some of the most challenging issues of de-occupation, reintegration, and conflict transformation. I will put forward a proposal for a future electoral system of the Abkhazia Autonomous Republic, which might set a framework for the elections of the local Parliament in a post-occupation scenario. It is important to note that the proposal is based on the assumption that de-occupation and conflict transformation will be achieved through a peaceful negotiation process involving international stakeholders and local communities and will include the return of IDPs and refugees to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. Much, of course, will depend upon the outcome of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
Over the years, extensive discussions have taken place on peace-building topics. Many once lofty ideas have crumbled under the weight of Russia's wars of aggression. Nevertheless, despite a pressing need for a comprehensive vision for de-occupation and conflict transformation, research which presents future-oriented policy solutions has been limited.
This article thus aims to stimulate discussions on the reunification of Georgia and provide new reference points for further research. It is hoped that it will be the first out of many new publications that will encourage dialogue among stakeholders and that it might help establish a new ground for negotiations vis-a-vis international actors, communities across the conflict divides and different political groups. It is also hoped that this article will shift public policy analytics from problem-identification, in which policy pundits have already excelled, towards the development of specific action plans with a greater emphasis on problem-solving.
Current situation

One of the possible explanations for the lack of new ideas is that under the current political arrangement, there is no clear owner of the policy-making process on issues of connected de-occupation, reintegration and conflict transformation. Currently, Georgia has numerous councils and public offices which are designed to deal fully or in part with these issues. To begin with, there is an office of the State Ministry of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, which is in charge of coordinating and monitoring activities undertaken towards conflict resolution, generating new peace initiatives and reintegrating the conflict regions and their population with the rest of Georgia. Then, there is the Ministry of IDPs from the occupied territories, labour, health and Social Affairs of Georgia, which deals with the problems of IDPs and curates an important referral program that provides Abkhazians and South Ossetians with free healthcare. Third, there is a set of governmental agencies of the Government of Abkhazia in exile, which includes the apparatus of the head of the Government and 1) Ministry of Education and Culture, 2) Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, 3) Ministry of Finance and Economy, 4) Ministry of IDPs and Refugees, and 5) office of the Minister of Justice and Civil Integration issues; 6) as well as numerous governmental agencies. The Government of Abkhazia operates under the supervision of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in exile, which also wields a certain degree of legislative power. In addition to this list, there is a Provisional Administration of South Ossetia. Finally, there is a Temporary Parliamentary Commission on Restoration of Territorial Integrity and De-occupation, which, according to the charter, is responsible for the coordination of the relevant policy and parliamentary overhead. In addition to that, by the decision of the Prime Minister on June 23 2021, the Government of Georgia issued a decree on the creation of a "Government Commission to elaborate and implement the Georgian State Strategy for De-occupation and Peaceful Conflict Resolution" which was formed under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Such a long list of public bodies responsible entirely or in part for conflict resolution can result in difficulties with coordination and consistency, and hence, growing inertia and lost opportunities. From a legal perspective, the policy-making on conflict resolution is based on three significant documents: the Law of Georgia on Occupied Territories, 2008, and State Strategy on Occupied Regions "Engagement through Cooperation", 2010, and an important resolution of the Georgian Parliament, 2013, in which the commitment for peaceful resolution of the conflicts is asserted.
Given the current geopolitical shift and the success of previous peace-building initiatives (such as social and health programs), Georgia now has the opportunity to generate new and innovative solutions for long-standing issues. The policy-making process requires updating and further refinement. One of the keys to policy refinement is to encompass a broader range of pending problems since it is difficult to separate de-occupation and conflict transformation from, for instance, the issues such as restitution of property rights, state support for preserving and developing the Abkhaz language, safe return of IDPs to their homes, as well as economic, social and urban development plans (how else can a return thousands of IDPs to their homes be managed?) and the future democratic governance in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region.
Preparing policy concepts for peaceful and inclusive unification presents an opportunity for the Georgian Government to demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles and peaceful conflict resolution. One example of such policy concepts could be the development of a vision for a fair and transparent electoral system of reintegrated Abkhazia, which would address concerns about sudden changes in voter demographics (return of IDPs) and demonstrate a commitment to human rights and democratic principles as well. Such a proposal can provide a framework for negotiations on the restoration of territorial integrity vis-a-vis international stakeholders and local political groups, and promote trust and facilitate reconciliation. If developed well, such a plan would foster political stability and reduce regional tensions, creating a more peaceful and stable environment for resolving anticipated social and political conflicts. This is critical for achieving peace and stability in the region.
Electoral system of Abkhazia Autonomous Republic as a challenge 

This article argues that a democratic and transparent electoral system would be crucial for a successful reconciliation in Abkhazia. Yet, this issue poses a considerable challenge due to the region's highly polarized multiethnic nature. The polarization in Abkhazia, however, is not a recent development. During the late Soviet period, nationalist sentiments rose as territorial-administrative centers vied for power with republican centers, utilizing Moscow's influence and engaging in ethnic entrepreneurship. This process culminated in the military conflict of 1992-1993 and ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population.

According to the 1989 census, ethnic Abkhaz constituted 18% of the region's total population. However, despite a relative share in the total population, in 1990, eight out of twelve ministers of Soviet Abkhazia were Abkhaz, half of the first secretaries of the Communist party and eight out of fifteen representatives of Abkhazia ASSR in the Soviet Supreme Council were ethnic Abkhaz. During the Soviet period, local elites used nationalistic sentiments and Moscow's influence as political leverage, which was politically institutionalized through quotas. The restoration of Georgian independence could have ended these ethnic preferences and was therefore perceived as a threat. But, just months after the restoration of Georgian independence, the Georgian Government adopted a new electoral system in an effort to reduce polarization and ease ethnic Abkhaz's fears of losing political dominance. The new system included ethnic quotas that granted ethnic Abkhaz relative majority in the local Parliament. According to the electoral law, 28 seats (43%) were reserved for ethnic Abkhaz (who constituted 18% of the population), 26 seats (40%) for ethnic Georgians (who made up 46% of the total population), and 11 seats (17%) for representatives of other ethnic groups (who constituted 31.7% of the population). This was achieved through changes in the sizes and shapes of electoral districts. Fifty-four electoral districts were reserved for either ethnic Abkhaz or Georgian candidates. Only eleven districts were without such restrictions. The proposed system was an effort made by the Georgian Government to reduce polarization and establish an institutional framework for consensual decision-making, as none of the ethnic groups could have achieved an outright majority in the supreme council of Abkhazia. However, due to political mistakes, bad luck, and foreign influence, neither of the aims was accomplished.
The issue of the electoral system was pressing before the war in Abkhazia and will be even more pressing in the post-occupation period (especially in the light of ethnocratic policies which have been in place in Abkhazia). Discriminatory policies are reinforced as a political and cultural norm under the occupational regime as well. For instance, currently, only three out of 35 MPs in the de-facto Parliament of Abkhazia are not ethnic Abkhaz. Moreover, a local constitutional document explicitly reserves the presidential seat for an ethnic Abkhaz. Two thousand seventeen data showed that out of the 46,000 residents of the mostly Georgian-populated Gali district, there were only 603 registered voters. Substantive evidence shows that one of the most sensitive issues to Abkhaz elites is the issue of the return of Georgians who were forcefully expelled from Abkhazia. 
Existing Options 

Therefore, what kind of democratic, open and non-discriminatory electoral system can be established in Abkhazia taking into account local socio-historical context? Below, some building blocks of the possible electoral system will be outlined. The proposed model was developed through a series of roundtable discussions and workshops with IDPs from Abkhazia, representatives of the communities across the conflict divides, civil society organizations and academia. 

Firstly, it's crucial to evaluate the most apparent electoral alternatives. The initial two options worth considering are: (1) a fully proportional electoral system, similar to what will be used in the upcoming elections in the rest of Georgia (it is important to note that regional parties are not allowed in Georgia), and (2) adoption of a fully majoritarian electoral system, with an equal division of electoral districts. Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. 
There is a significant amount of literature which suggests that the proportional system is good for multiethnic regions. However, the experience of violent conflict could result in an opposite outcome. When communities experience violence during times of war, it has a profound impact on their social and political dynamics. One major effect is the reinforcement of ethnic identities, as individuals may feel a stronger sense of belonging and loyalty to their group in the face of external threats. This sense of identity can be further strengthened by the development of intra-ethnic cohesion, as members of the group come together to support and protect one another. However, this sense of cohesion often comes at the expense of trust towards individuals outside the ethnic group. As a result, people may be more likely to view those from other ethnic backgrounds with suspicion and even hostility. This increased distrust can also contribute to the politicization of ethnicity, as people turn to ethnic parties and ethnic voting patterns as the most attractive channels of representation. The impact of wartime violence on communities can have far-reaching consequences for their social and political structures, particularly regarding ethnic relations and identity. Nevertheless, a proportional system might be the best solution in the long run. However, its implementation will be contingent on a number of both internal and international factors.
In the context of electoral systems, it is important to understand the implications of single (2.1) or multi-mandate (2.2) fully majoritarian systems. Such systems are likely to encourage ethnicity-based voting patterns within each electoral district, potentially fueling tensions rather than decreasing polarization. Overall, these electoral models would give structural advantages to the candidates of ethnic majorities in the respective electoral district. Consequently, in areas with distinct ethnic majorities, this could reinforce voting along ethnic lines. The system might inadvertently provide a platform for the majority's dominance, hence reinforcing rather than mitigating existing ethnic divides. This pattern could further escalate tensions among different ethnic groups, as the minority voices might feel sidelined in favour of the majority. Such a structure would, therefore, grant structural advantages to candidates from the ethnic majorities in the respective electoral districts. This could likely result in an ethnically-driven majority (or minority) representation in the local Parliament. This could result in a perceived or real marginalization of certain ethnic groups, potentially leading to increased grievances and discontent.

Soviet national policies, the effects of which can still be felt today, exacerbated the situation by structuring societies around their ethnic affiliations. These policies led to the institutionalized overrepresentation of the ethnic Abkhaz in positions of power, disproportionate to their population share. The 1991 electoral system was specifically designed to suit this existing political context and is one of the potential options (3) for future electoral arrangements as well. However, the feasibility of returning to the pre-war arrangements is uncertain. The 1991 system has faced criticism from various ethnic groups and may be viewed as a loss, even from an Abkhaz nationalistic perspective. Nevertheless, ensuring ethnically diverse representation and reducing grievances is key to successful reconciliation. How can we manage this?
Another possible approach would be to consider (4) implanting ethnic quotas in party lists. With the transition to a fully proportional electoral system in Georgia (where regional parties are prohibited), every party will be required to include ethnic Abkhaz in their party list in order to participate in local parliamentary elections. This approach could encourage the integration of ethnic Abkhaz within the existing political party system in Georgia. However, Abkhaz politicians may be hesitant to join parties that operate across the whole of Georgia. In addition, setting quotas for ethnic Abkhaz will have to be coupled with gender quotas. Potential quotas for other ethnic groups should then also be considered. Quota systems have their limitations and, if implemented without careful consideration, could result in an overly complex and potentially corruptible system. For instance, one of such risks is tokenism; political parties may only include or promote members of ethnic Abkhaz origin to create an appearance of inclusivity without, in fact, providing meaningful opportunities for selected individuals to have a genuine impact or influence within the party. All these risks are compounded by the lack of a long and established tradition of a party system in Georgia.
The Problem of Political Essentialism 

The list of possible arrangements which can ensure certain ethnic balance in representation through quotas or gerrymandering can be extended, and it is important to address the ideology that underpins the use of ethnic quotas, which is Political Essentialism. It views political systems, institutions, and practices as fixed and unchanging and considers individuals as passive agents in the political process, defined solely by their group identity. Political essentialism asserts that group membership and characteristics are the primary determinants of political behaviour and that individuals cannot be separated from the group to which they belong.
While ethnic quotas are intended to address the need for greater representation of minority groups, in practice, they can be problematic as they tend to oversimplify complex reality. It not only ignores individual differences and diversity within groups but also perpetuates ethnic stereotypes. Political essentialism, in fact, can also lead to political polarization and escalate conflicts, as different groups are seen as having fundamentally different interests and goals. This was particularly evident during the conflicts in the 1990s. Moreover, rather than promoting a society based on civil equality, political essentialism perpetuates ethnic division by emphasizing group differences. In politics, it promotes ethnic entrepreneurship, which can lead to the monopolization of experiences, narratives, and history. Given the local socio-historical context, the above-mentioned electoral systems will most likely lock the electoral process in ethnic voting patterns. 

Last but not least the experience of quota-based power-sharing agreements and mandatory coalitions often results in enforced ethnic segregation, rigid identity politics, the exclusion of other ethnic minorities and those who do not fit neatly into the defined ethnic categories, and political stagnation. All these risks could potentially apply to Abkhazia in a post-occupation scenario.
Thinking out of the box: A Proposal for the Future Electoral System in Abkhazia

Disregarding political essentialism in Abkhazia may not be advisable, even though it is unlikely to result in the most favourable outcomes. But how can these challenges be addressed? 
What if, instead of implementing ethnic quotas in the existing and future electoral laws, we can amend election rules in such a way that can dilute the importance of ethnicity in elections and make political competition more transparent and open? Indirect safeguards could be put in place to prevent the creation of an ethnicity-driven majority/minority in the local Parliament rather than directly mandating certain ethnic proportions. A healthy and guaranteed turnover in the composition of MPs can be a part of the solution. This, after all, is what democracy should be about. The electoral system which is proposed hereto is an attempt to move in this direction; and it is not defined by political essentialism, but informed by it. 
The proposed electoral system aims to promote greater participation in political processes for all ethnic groups in every part of post-occupation Abkhazia. It also provides incentives for independents to run as candidates. The system can potentially reduce the influence of ethnic voting patterns on electoral outcomes. It should be noted that the proposed system can come in slightly different models, and certain assumptions have to be made to narrow the description and contextualize the proposal. The assumptions are the following: firstly, it is assumed that the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia and the return of internally displaced persons to their homes is a matter of foreseeable future. Secondly, the discussion of the political status of future Abkhazia lies beyond the scope of this article, as the current legal status of an autonomous republic within Georgia provides sufficient protection for political and cultural rights. Thirdly, it is advised that the proposed electoral system will be complemented by promoting the representation of diverse groups in other branches of power at both local and central levels. Fourthly, it is assumed that the proposed electoral system is accompanied by fiscal decentralization and the establishment of a robust self-governance system in all municipalities. This approach aims to delegate the responsibility of managing many 'city' issues and other local affairs (social, economic, cultural, and urban, to name the least) to the local level. As a result, parliamentary attention can be redirected towards matters of greater significance. Finally, it is presumed that there will be six electoral districts, each corresponding to one of the six regions of Abkhazia: Gagra, Gudauta, Sokhumi, Guliripshi, Ochamchire, and Gali (for this article, we will not be addressing the de-facto separation of Tkvarcheli into a separate territorial-administrative entity). 
The proposed system is arranged as follows: Each electoral district selects five representatives to the local Parliament. The selection is conducted with a hybrid of standard election process and sortition, a mechanism of selecting members of a public office by lot. Sortition, also known as random selection, is a democratic process of selecting individuals for public office or decision-making positions through a lottery. This method ensures that all members of a society have an equal chance of being chosen and can, therefore, participate in the democratic process. Sortition has been used throughout history in various forms of democracy. Ancient Athens, for example, used sortition to select officials for public service, including jurors, legislators, and executive officials. This method ensured that public office was open to all citizens, not just the wealthy or powerful. In medieval Venice, the Great Council used sortition to select its members, which allowed for broad representation and reduced the influence of wealthy families. More recently, sortition has been used in contemporary democratic experiments, such as the Icelandic Constitutional Assembly, which used a randomly selected group of citizens to draft a new constitution. Sortition has also been used in citizen assemblies in various countries, including Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The importance of sortition lies in its ability to prevent corruption, favouritism, and elitism, as it removes the influence of money, power, or other forms of influence on the selection process. Additionally, it promotes diversity and representation, as individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives are more likely to be selected.

Sortition is gaining popularity in modern democracies. Its importance lies in its ability to increase democratic participation; sortition has been proposed as a way to address issues of political polarization and gridlock and to improve the legitimacy of public decision-making processes. It helps to ensure that those who are chosen for public office are genuinely representative of the population and not just benefit from other structural factors of the society. 

According to our proposal, citizens elect district representatives through a combination of vote ranking and random selection from qualifying candidates. All candidates compete in the district election race. The candidates with the highest and second-highest vote counts are automatically selected as representatives for their district. All remaining candidates must achieve a vote count equivalent to or greater than 5% of the total votes cast in their district. The pool of qualifying candidates excludes candidates with the highest and second-highest votes. Three additional representatives are selected via a lottery system from the pool of qualifying candidates. Following the process, each district will be represented by five individuals.
Let's incorporate the given information into the formal model:

D: Total number of Districts (fixed at 6 in this case)
C: Total number of Candidates in a given district
R: Number of Representatives per district (fixed at 5 in this case)
T: Total number of votes cast in a given district
V[i]: Votes received by the i-th candidate (where i ranges from 1 to C)
Th: Threshold for qualifying candidates (fixed at 5% of T in this case)
W: Winners selected automatically based on votes (fixed at 2 in this case)
L: Additional representatives selected via lottery (fixed at 3 in this case)

The formal model for this electoral system then becomes:
    For each of the districts (D = 6):
All candidates in the district (C) compete in the election.
Count votes for each candidate (V[i]) from the total votes cast (T).
    For each of the districts (D = 6):
Identify the two candidates with the highest votes (V[i] and V[j]). These candidates are automatically selected as district representatives.
    For each of the districts (D = 6):
Exclude the two winners (V[i] and V[j]) from the pool of candidates.
Identify all remaining candidates who meet the threshold (V[k] >= 0.05*T). These candidates are added to the qualifying pool.
    For each of the districts (D = 6):
Select three additional representatives (L) randomly from the qualifying pool.

The outcome of this process is that each of the districts (D = 6) will be represented by five individuals (R), comprising two winners based on the highest vote counts (W) and three randomly selected individuals from the qualifying pool (L). This system also includes several extensions, such as an integrated rotation principle and a provision for recalling an MP, which are discussed below. It's also worth noting that this system can be calibrated according to numerous factors and objectives. This issue will be briefly discussed in the conclusion.
To understand the logic behind such an arrangement, we should first analyze the demographic history and future projections. According to the 1989 census, Georgians constituted 46% of the overall population, with a majority presence in only two districts. Abkhazia also houses a significant number of ethnic Armenians, Russians, and other ethnic groups, reflecting a diversity that permeates the region. The return of Georgian internally displaced persons (IDPs) will further augment this diversity. The proposed electoral system aims to prevent the formation of clear majorities or minorities through ethnic voting patterns, which can lead to grievances and polarization. This is also important because an ethnic majority in one electoral district can be an ethnic minority in another and vice versa. Unlike other electoral systems, the proposed system promotes diverse ethnic representation in each electoral district while, at the same time, it minimizes the direct influence of ethnic distribution across the districts. 
This is achieved via the incorporation of a sortition mechanism. Once candidates surpass an electoral threshold in each district, they become eligible for selection as representatives of their district through sortition. This arrangement not only provides equal opportunities for all candidates regardless of their ethnicity but also encourages voting decisions to be made based on factors beyond ethnicity.
As mentioned, the proposed electoral system is informed by political essentialism but not bound by it. The complexity of individual identities makes it difficult to translate them into ethnic quotas. Is ethnicity a matter of kind or quantity? For example, how would a mixed heritage family member be counted in quotas-based systems? (This will be particularly difficult in the region where even the same surnames are disputed as markers of different ethnicities). The proposed system incorporates majority rule, a characteristic of any democratic governance, while also providing real and equal opportunities for all minority groups that pass the electoral threshold. These groups could be based on various principles such as ethnicity, political affiliation, social class, cultural preferences, gender, and other factors, giving them a fair chance in local parliamentary elections. This approach dilutes the importance of solely ethnicity-based voting patterns and incorporates other dimensions in voting decision-making as well. It is believed that sortition can help reduce political gridlocks and promote compromise and collaboration. This system has the potential to foster greater cooperation and inclusivity, resulting in a diverse representation and effective political system.
The proposed system also differs from proportional or other electoral systems that rely heavily on party affiliation. This has certain practical advantages. In the local context, where there are no long-standing party traditions, parties are often formed around personalities. However, instead of creating public value and other advantages, they tend to serve the interests of their founders, who block both internal competition as well as make it much more difficult for independents to participate in elections. In our proposed model, however, a candidate can still be a party member, but the system does not revolve around political parties. The chances of the candidate will depend more on personal reputation. This, we believe, would be beneficial for reconciliation, as it would reduce the risk of importing to Abkhazia fierce party competition from the rest of Georgia. Especially in retrospect, this kind of risk appears to be a menacing one. 
Another important component of the proposed electoral system is the built-in mechanism of rotation, which prohibits candidates selected through sortition from participating in two sortition procedures in a row. After careful consideration, it was agreed that no exception to this principle is made, even for the cases of snap elections. This mechanism aims to ensure that candidates who are unable to secure first and second places but are continuously passing the electoral threshold would have an improved opportunity to be selected in subsequent rounds of sortition, provided all other factors are equal. This aspect is one of the system's primary strengths, as it emphasizes equality and offers genuine prospects for political influence. Successful candidates can use their luck for better or worse - they can either build upon it or, on the other hand, lose their reputation. Candidates selected by lot can use their luck to test their political agendas against the realities of the political process and either adapt and refine them or make others change their minds. The luck of being selected by sortition can also help them to build political clout for the next elections and have a better chance of competing for the first two places. 
In this proposed system, the society has the opportunity to learn from its experiences and accumulate knowledge, which is more likely due to the system's dynamic nature that guarantees a turnover in the composition of Parliament through sortition. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of irreversible bad decisions or unlucky selections by a lot. In Georgia, the tradition of democratic transition of power is nearly nonexistent, and there has been no experience with coalition government. However, the proposed system represents a significant step in this direction and bolsters the chances for effective democracy. Over time, any missteps will be transformed into resilience and important political experience. Additionally, since the proposed system lowers the barriers to political competition, it reduces the risks of radicalization and other grievances of political 'outsiderism'.
Our proposal also includes additional safeguards to address immediate risks associated with sortition, which is the institute of the recall of the deputy, i.e. removal from an office by the electorate before the termination of their term. This procedure can be initiated if a political actor chosen by lot attempts to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order or endangers the existence of the Georgian State. The recall of the deputy can be accomplished through a referendum, which can be initiated by the voters of the district and confirmed by the president of Georgia or the local Parliament. This suggestion carries some risks, so additional safeguards should be incorporated into the recall procedure; however, a detailed analysis of these is beyond the scope of this article. Our approach ensures that MPs chosen by lot are not immediately attacked by their political rivals with a recall procedure and also mitigates the risk of political opportunism. 

Selection of the Speaker of the Local Parliament

In the proposed model, the issue of selecting a Speaker of the Parliament has also been given due consideration. With the election of 30 MPs from 6 electoral districts, there is a possibility of tie votes on certain issues, leading to a deadlock. To address this issue, it is proposed that the President of Georgia nominate a candidate for the position of Speaker of the Parliament from among its members. This nomination then undergoes a parliamentary vote for approval. If the candidate is chosen as a Speaker, their initial seat would become vacant and be filled by the next candidate in line, either based on the number of votes received or through another sortition process, depending on the method initially used for selection. According to the proposal, the Speaker of the Parliament is meant to be non-partisan as his role is supposed to be primarily one of procedural and administrative management; however, in the case of a tied vote, in exceptional cases, the Speaker of the Parliament may use a casting vote to break a tie. It is worth noting that the possibility of nominating a candidate from outside the pool of MPs, effectively as an additional member, has also been discussed by either enlarging the pool of possible candidates to all who were able to pass a minimal electoral threshold or even further. However, after careful consideration, it was agreed that the integrity of the local Parliament is best upheld when the Speaker is elected from the pool of MPs. 
The rationale behind the decision to appoint the Speaker of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia via the presidential nomination, subject to approval by the local Parliament, is the promotion of reintegration of the political system of Abkhazia with the rest of Georgia. In the proposed model, the selection of the Speaker is critical since the appointment of the Government hinges on it: unless the Speaker is voted in, the Government cannot be confirmed. In such a scenario, the President of Georgia will have the right to dissolve the Parliament and call for snap elections. This will give a president leverage and create a ground for political deal-making between the president of Georgia and the local MPs, 3/5 of which were selected by lot, will risk their chances of being selected to the Parliament once again and, therefore, will probably be more ready to compromise on deadlocks such as this, and cooperate with the central Government. This overall will promote the integration of the politicians of Abkhazia into the political life of the rest of Georgia. 
Conclusion and prospects for further research

As it was rightly said: "Good government requires a healthy stream of good ideas…" in a crisis, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. This essay briefly analyses the challenges of producing innovative policy solutions related to de-occupation, reintegration, and conflict transformation. The socio-historical context is discussed, and the essay focuses on one of the most important issues of future reconciliation: establishing a fair electoral system in the region with a highly polarized multiethnic population. Existing alternatives are briefly evaluated, as well as the limitations posed by the philosophy of political essentialism, which underpins the quotas-based solutions. The proposed system is an attempt to move in the direction of a more fair and transparent electoral system. This proposition includes several key components, such as multi-mandate electoral districts, integration of sortition mechanisms in the elections, a minimal electoral threshold of 5%, a rotation principle for candidates selected by lot, the possibility to recall MPs and the appointment procedure of the Local Parliament Speaker. These components are designed to create a stable electoral system that provides a basis for inclusive elections and reconciliation and may help dilute the importance of ethnic distribution across the territorial administrative districts and of ethnicity-based voting patterns. It is believed that this system, under certain political and socio-historic contexts, can promote reconciliation and reintegration of Abkhazia with the rest of Georgia.
The pillars of the proposed electoral system can be modified and/or imported by other self-governing institutions such as, for instance, student unions or professional associations. A combination of standard elections and sortition, the proposed model aims to lower barriers and encourage new leaders and new ideas to emerge. It is believed to be one of the best options which can guarantee versatile ethnic representation without locking the electoral competition to just ethnicity-driven voting patterns. However, each component of the proposed system requires further research. The challenge associated with such research is that it should focus on the specifics of each possible model while also being conducted holistically. 

Furthermore, there is a need to conduct probabilistic simulations based on existing and projected data to assess all existing electoral models. The proposed electoral system has an additional advantage, as it is designed to fit within Georgia's existing legal framework. It is relatively simple and transparent, which can make it more appealing to voters. However, overall, it is a theoretical proposition which aims to stimulate public discussions and further research. This idea needs to be tested in experiments (which could, for instance, be conducted at universities) to identify any potential hidden risks of the model and calibrate it. For example, the proposed arrangement could be amended in such a way that there will be three MPs elected by multi-mandate majoritarian electoral procedure and only two selected via sortition, or any other component could be adjusted. 

The aim would be to minimize the drawbacks and maximize the advantages. Ultimately, such a decision will require an in-depth analysis of local political culture, likely necessitating a decisive vote in a figurative philosophical debate between Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It is important to keep in mind that the proposed system is not a cure-all for the shortcomings of democracy, nor are any other systems. The value of any system lies in its ability to promote healthy political competition, reduce tensions, and foster collaboration and reconciliation.

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