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New Premier every year

By Messenger Staff
Monday, February 2
Last week’s change of Prime Minister was not unexpected. Again the rumours of the quick resignation of the PM came true. The Prime Minister is gone, long live the new Prime Minister. This time the Finance Minister and former Minister for Energy Nika Gilauri has attained the position. No smoke without fire, it seems.

The resignation has become another hot topic of speculation in the media and for the general public. Not only are the real reasons behind Mgaloblishvili’s resignation discussed, but the issue of whether we should even have a Prime Minister’s post as such.

This post did not exist in the Georgian Constitution of 1995. It was established by the post-Rose Revolution amendments of February 2004. One of the leaders of the Revolution, Zurab Zhvania, was granted the position. At that time the rumour was that the post was being created to satisfy all three Revolutionary leaders, the other two being President Saakashvili and Chair of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, by giving them all a sufficiently powerful position. However Zhvania was a very influential and highly respected figure. We will never know how things might have developed in this country had he not died suddenly, in circumstances which are questioned by many, in February 2005.

After Zhvania’s death the new PM was Zurab Noghaideli who stayed until the end of 2007 when Lado Gurgenidze was appointed. He lasted until Autumn 2008, when Gega Mgaloblishvili was appointed. Now we have Nika Gilauri, who unlike the two previous Prime Ministers is a long-serving Member of the Government.

Some analysts suggest that since Zhvania’s death the position of Prime Minister has lost its significance and has became totally dependent on the President’s will. The Constitution does not clearly define the limits or areas of the Prime Minister’s powers, duties and obligations, leaving the President free to interfere in his work and override any action a Prime Minister may take. The opposition thinks that the major problem with the role is not the personal like or dislike of the President for those appointed to it but this fact that the PM’s responsibilities are insufficiently demarcated from those of other Ministers, and no area is specified in which the President cannot interfere with the work of the Prime Minister.

During Shevardnadze administration there was no Cabinet of Ministers, the President himself led the Government and he had an executive, a State Minister, who implemented the President’s decisions. Today either the Prime Minister is formally the Head of Government or it has two heads like some mythological beast, one superior to the other. In reality the President runs it, regardless of whether he or the Prime Minister is actually chairing the meetings or in the room at the time.

The leader of the Christian Democratic faction in Parliament, Giorgi Akhvlediani, thinks that the President’s and PM’s functions should be clearly determined. “It should not be the President sitting and answering questions from the population on where to pave the road, in which village to build a bridge or where a tractor should go. The Prime Minister should be doing this, as he is the Head of Government, responsible for its work and all social and economic issues.”

Gilauri, it is said, has no political ambitions, being merely an obedient executive. However a similarly obedient executive, Noghaideli, is currently in the opposition. Now analysts have started guessing which “faction” of the Government Gilauri will support as the rumours say that such factions do exist.

Prediction? Parliament will approve and confirm the new changes in the Government but the opposition will not participate in the voting. The rest we will discover together.