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Christian Dems take seats as parliamentary majority play nice with opposition

By Shorena Labadze
Monday, June 23
The Christian Democratic Movement took up their seats in the new parliament on June 20, becoming the only non-government party to do so, with its party leader calling the move the best way forward.

Parliamentary Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani described the session as the beginning of a “new chapter in Georgian parliamentarianism,” an optimistic comment of the sort now integral to ruling party overtures to opposition MPs.

“The key aim for both sides is one and the same—success for Georgia,” he said.

The United Opposition, a seven-party coalition, are boycotting parliament in protest at what they say were rigged elections last month. Coalition members have hit out at the Christian Democrats for defying the boycott, branding them a pseudo-opposition force.

But Targamadze justified his party’s decision to take up their seats by evoking an ancient proverb.

“It’s better to light just one candle than to curse the darkness,” he said, adding, “this is the main principle of our activity.”

Parliament unanimously passed a number of amendments at the June 20 session, in accordance with an agreement the Christian Democrats struck with the ruling party earlier this month designed to give the opposition more power in decision making.

These included expanding the number of parliamentary committee deputies from two to three, one of which will be nominated by the opposition. The number of vice speakers has also been increased.

Ruling party MP Davit Darchiashvili called on the opposition to be proactive with their new positions in parliamentary committees.

“I hope opposition representatives will use not the positions simply as platforms to inform society of their opinions, but contribute to the work of the committees,” Darchiashvili said.

Meanwhile Jondi Baghaturia, who split from the United Opposition to take up his seat in parliament, dismissed the amendments as cosmetic.

“In reality it doesn’t change anything. These changes don’t mean there will be an opportunity for the opposition to participate in legislation,” he said.

He also pushed for the creation of investigative committees to look into alleged violations in this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections as well as the police crackdown on anti-protestors last November.

Parliamentary Speaker Davit Bakradze responded by stating that a committee can be set up only at the request of parliamentary faction, not a single MP.

Seventeen ruling party majoritarian MPs, elected through local voting, have formed a faction named Georgia’s Regions-Majoritarians. It will be headed by Gogi Liparteliani, MP for Lentekhi district.

The number of MPs needed to create a faction was formally decreased from seven to six during the June 20 session, enabling the Christian Democrats, who won six seats in parliament, to set up their own faction.

Party representatives said talks are underway with other opposition MPs including Paata Davitaia, the leader of a small party that split from the United Opposition.

Davitaia declined to give details. “I won’t make any comment on the issue, as the consultations are ongoing and nothing has been decided yet,” he told the Messenger.