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Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashbili, stated the following at his meeting with journalists on 4 June 2014: “For the first time, 12 city mayors and up to 60 gamgebelis will be directly elected by the Georgian population. This is a step forward which has not yet been achieved by approximately 15-17 EU Member States.”

FactCheck

got interested in this fact and verified the Prime Minister’s statement.

The Parliament of Georgia adopted the Local Self-Government Code on 5 February 2014. It will enter into force after the municipal elections of 15 June 2014. At the municipal level, local self-government will be implemented in self-governing cities and self-governing communities.  Self-governing cities are defined by the same Organic Law. These cities are the following: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batumi, Telavi, Ozurgeti Zugdidi, Gori, Ambrolauri, Mtskheta and Akhaltsikhe.

According to the Code, the Municipal Council will be elected by the citizens registered on the territory of a municipality through direct, universal, equal and secret suffrage. The governor or the mayor will be elected for a four-year term by direct, universal, equal and secret suffrage.

FactCheck

also wondered how self-government bodies are elected in EU Member States and verified the second part of the Prime Minister’s statement. It is noteworthy that governors (gamgebelis) in EU Member States are also referred to as mayors.

Austria- The mayor (Bürgermeister) is elected either by the municipal council or by direct universal suffrage depending on the region. Belgium- In Flanders and Brussels, the mayor is appointed by the regional government at the recommendation of a municipal council for a six-year mandate. In Wallonia, the mayor is directly elected by the population after which he/she is also appointed by the regional government. Bulgaria- The mayor is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year term. Croatia- The mayor (gradonacelnik) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year term. Cyprus- The mayor (dimarchos) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year mandate. Czech Republic- The mayor is elected by and from within the municipal council for a four-year mandate. Denmark- The mayor is elected for four years by the municipal council. Estonia-The mayor (vallavanem or linnapea) is appointed by the municipal council for a four-year term. Finland- The mayor (kunnanjohtaja) is elected by the municipal council for a fixed or indefinite term of office

which should not exceed the municipal council’s term of office.

France- The mayor is elected for six years by the municipal council. Germany- The mayor is elected by direct universal suffrage for a mandate that can vary from four to nine years. Greece- The mayor (dimarchos) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a period of four years. Hungary- The mayor (polgarmester) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a period of four years. Ireland- The mayor is elected every year by borough or town council members. Italy- The mayor is elected by direct universal suffrage for a period of 5 years. Latvia- The chairman of the local council (priekšdēdētājs) carries out the duties of the mayor, who is elected by and from within the local council for a four-year term. Lithuania- The mayor is elected by and from within the local council for four years. Luxembourg- The mayor is designated by the national government from among the municipal council members for a six-year mandate. Malta- The mayor (sindku) is the local council member who has received the highest number of votes within the political party that got the overall majority during the local election. Netherlands- The mayor (burgemeester) is formally appointed for a six-year mandate by the national government at the proposal of the local council. Poland- The mayor (wójt or burmistrz) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year term. Portugal- The mayor (presidente da câmara municipal) is elected for a four-year mandate. The mayor is the electoral candidate having headed the list with the most votes during the municipal council elections. Romania- The mayor is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year mandate. Slovakia- The mayor is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year mandate. Slovenia- The mayor (zupan) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a four-year mandate. Spain- The mayor (alcalde/president) is appointed by and from within the local council for a four-year mandate. Sweden- The mayor is appointed for a period of four years by the municipal assembly. United Kingdom- In most cases, the mayor is appointed by the municipal council. However, in some districts, mayors are elected by direct suffrage.

Conclusion

As we can conclude, EU Member States do not have the same practice in terms of electing mayors at the local level. The mayors are elected by direct suffrage in 11 EU Member States. The mayor is either directly elected or appointed by the municipal council or the central government (depending on the region). The mayors are not directly elected in 14 EU Member States.

We conclude that Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement,“For the first time, 12 city mayors and up to 60 gamgebelis will be directly elected by the Georgian population. This is a step forward which has not yet been achieved by approximately 15-17 EU Member States,” is TRUE.