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Georgian Dream proposes a check on president's power

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, December 31
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition are going to initiate constitutional amendment. In an interview with TV Imedi on December 27, Ivanishvili said that the amendments Saakashvili and his team had made to the state constitution represent a threat to everyone and it is nothing but a crime.

President’s current right to dismiss the government and propose a new PM and cabinet for confirmation to the Parliament will go under the amendment. He can appoint a new government even if the parliament refuses to approve the cabinet. The president can even dissolve the lawmaking body and appoint a new government, in case parliament refuses to approve the new cabinet three times. However, it is also mentioned in the Constitution that the president cannot dissolve the parliament within six month after the elections day.

The established system causes a misbalance of power. PM Ivanishvili and the Chair of the Parliament, Davit Usufashvili, have frequently mentioned that the system brings instability in the country.

The parliamentary majority has offered the United National Movement (UNM) to pass constitutional amendments which will not shrink the president’s power. However, it will change the procedure for dismissing the cabinet and appointing the new one. The president will be able to sack the government and even dissolve the parliament if it refuses to approve the new cabinet. However, unlike the current regulations, the president will have to wait for parliamentary elections and appoint his new government only after the new lawmaking body is formed.

PM Ivanishvili told Imedi TV that his party will also propose to change the six-month restriction in which the president has no right to dissolve the parliament to 3 months period.

Originally, the Georgian Dream was planning to significantly cut the president’s power; however, as Usufashvili said after some consultations, the plan had been dropped in favor of the new draft of amendments which shall become eligible for the parliament vote only after a month of public discussions. The parliament has already voted in favor of establishing a special group that will lead all formal procedures before the voting. The group received 108 votes and this means that several MPs from the United National Movement (UNM) also voted in favor.

Georgian Dream MP Vakhtang Khmaladze commented on the amendment’s draft and said that its main goal is to make sure Georgia always has a government supported by the people. In the case the president wants to dismiss the cabinet and set up a new one, he is welcomed to. However, he has to gain the support of the lawmakers, Khmaladze added.

Political Analyst Armaz Akhvlediani says that the current government has a very healthy attitude in the current situation; moreover, the ruling party finds it easy and absolutely possible to co-exist together with the president and also the previous government.

Many experts have assessed the PM’s initiative as both legally and politically correct, serving to establish stability and avoid political crisis in the country.

“Democracy itself excludes the possibility to permit one single person to dismiss the government without parliament's approval,” political Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger.

The expert says that a very unpleasant situation has been created in the country, when the President who is the Commander-in-Chief has absolute influence on the National Bank and the Georgian diplomats abroad. This awkward situation has provoked the necessity of constitutional amendments. Tsiskarishvili hopes that unlike the previous government who treated the Constitution improperly, the new government will finally be able to form the Constitution adequate to a really democratic country.

Tsiskarishvili finds the draft very acceptable and says that there is no need to significantly cut the president's power.