Georgian Parliament: Tbilisi-Kutaisi-Tbilisi
By Messenger Staff
Monday, October 22On October 21, Georgia's new parliament convened in Kutaisi. Two major forces were represented– the United National Movement and the Georgian Dream coalition. Among the many hot issues surrounding the current parliament, one of them concerns the final location of Georgian parliament. Will it be Kutaisi or Tbilisi? The winning GD coalition does not enjoy a constitutional majority in the new parliament, though the Georgian Dream received 54.7% of votes and the National Movement 40.34%. Overall, the ruling power owns 85 mandates, whereas the National Movement owns 65 mandates. To achieve the constitutional majority, the Georgian dream needs 15 extra mandates. It does not look realistic that that the GD will manage to convince 15 MPs from UNM to join them in near future. Moreover, many analysts suggest that the National Movement will critically oppose the ruling power, create a crisis situation and in 6 months time, the president could dismiss the parliament and announce repeat elections.
The most acute issues which need a constitutional majority in the parliament will be blocked by the UNM. As mentioned, one of the hottest issues will be the location of the parliament building. President Saakashvili wanted parliament to be located in Kutaisi, so unlimited financial resources were mobilized and in the shortest time, the new parliament was built in Kutaisi. The Georgian Dream meanwhile wants the parliament back in Tbilisi, as well as some other important institutions which were removed from the capital. Saakashvili was promoting the idea of decentralization as his principle of removing some important institutions from the capital to other cities. However, from the point of view of self-governance, nothing serious was done in this direction. So far, apart from the parliament, the Constitutional Court, Georgian Energy Regulatory Commission and the State Audit Service were removed from Tbilisi. Of course this increased dramatically transportation and accommodation as well as other costs for the employees.
Since the constitutional court was moved to Batumi, the cases to be discussed there decreased to half of the initial number. It is interesting that in unofficial private conversations even some UNM members were against removal of the parliament in Kutaisi. However, officially they all agree. There are many controversial issues in this regard. Even in the first move of this parliament issue when the memorial was demolished at the side where the future parliament had to be erected, two people died. In May 2011, when the first session was held in Kutaisi parliament, some of the ongoing construction work collapsed killing a worker.
In the end, even if the decision is made to return the parliament to Tbilisi, it will need some time to be rehabilitated. Before the first session, various MPs and invited guests were all facing technical problems in the current parliament in Kutaisi. Of course the issue of what will happen with the parliament in Tbilisi will also be on the agenda.