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Why does the Government want more Members of Parliament?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, November 14
The number of MPs in the Georgian Parliament will increase from 150 to 190 soon, if we believe a decision taken by the current administration last summer. Formal steps that will suddenly and significantly change the makeup of Parliament have begun with increased speed, in order to include the changes in the election code.

Since the Rose Revolution, the Georgian Constitution has constantly been amended--however this particular change is the most controversial and, indeed, the most scandalous. Why does the Government believe they need more MPs? The current number was established by a referendum on November 2, 2003. Georgian citizens are aware of it and the Government recognized this decision as the legal one. According to the Constitution, decisions made through a referendum can be annulled by a referendum decision again but the current Executive understands very well that most citizens would not approve such a decision at all thus they decided to ignore the previous referendum results and began brainwashing the public into believing that the number of MPs had been decreased by a decision of the Parliament and that the 2003 referendum was illegal since referendums are only valid when they are held on the entire territory of the country. This "trick" takes advantage of the fact South Ossetia and Abkhazia couldn't participate at that time in referendums concerning Georgia...

It is worth noting that other referendums have been respected by the Government when they saw them as 'useful', for example on Georgia’s support for NATO membership. Was this referendum illegal too, since it wasn't voted on in certain territories of the country?

Meanwhile the ruling authorities and President Saakashvili constantly repeat that increasing the number of MPs took place at the demand of the Opposition, blaming mainly the Christian Democrats and New Rights which agreed to support the ruling party "deal" since they saw this as a chance to have a voice. These parties represent a small minority in Parliament, thus other opposition forces have protested at the tactics used by Government. For instance, MP Gia Tsagareishvili (Free Democrats opposition party) looked at discrepancies in the procedure of introducing amendments to the Constitution, however there was little legal basis for protestation.

According to the "new rules" imposed on the Georgian population in the Constitution, there will be 190 MPs in Parliament--83 of them elected through the majority system, with candidates nominated directly from different regions of the country, and another 107 elected according to party lists. The draft constitution has been sent to the Venice Commission for a final decision, however. Members of this legal Commission previously came to Georgia to study the situation here. Most likely their decision will be rendered in mid-December, and then Parliamentary hearings will begin.

Thus, all proposed amendments should already be adopted by the Parliament by the time discussions begin on the Elections code—this is why the ruling forces are in a hurry to push their radical changes through quickly.