The messenger logo

Constitutional changes in question

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 5
The Georgian Dream's proposed changes to the constitutional will be presented to the parliament for voting on February 6. A statement concerning the issue was made by Georgian Dream representative Zurab Abashidze on February 4.

Abashidze hopes that members of the United National Movement will support the changes despite the fact the changes in the constitution are disliked by the current President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

The majority believes that the two amendments should be introduced to the Constitution of Georgia. One of the amendments is concerned with the restriction of presidential powers and the other pertains to returning the parliament building to Tbilisi.

The idea of these amendments is that the president will not be able to appoint the prime minister and the government unilaterally, in the case he dismisses the parliament; if he does so, the current government should work until a new parliament is elected and until a new cabinet is approved by the new parliament. The majority feels that through this practically unchecked power, the president might create unrest and disability inside the country.

In order for the constitutional changes to come to fruition, two-thirds support within the parliament is required.

“Those who do not vote for the constitutional changes are voting against Georgian statehood and will only serve the ambitions of one man– Mikheil Saakashvili,” coalition members state. Five members of the coalition have already spread this special message towards the minority representatives, and have explained why the constitutional changes are so important and why they should support them. The coalition members also invited minority members to take part in a televised or parliamentary debate on the topic– “Saakashvili or Georgia, dictatorship or public rule.”

The minority has thus far opposed the amendment initiative.

“We will only support the changes if the constitution will also reflect the invariability of Georgia’s foreign course and if two-thirds of the parliament’s votes will be needed for carrying out the constitutional changes,” MP Davit Bakradze said.

The statement made by fellow UNM MP Goka Gabashvili, was a bit different:

“Voting is tomorrow and the coalition will see that they will not achieve their goal. They could not do this as the whole process of discussing the constitutional changes was backed by unrest, the mobilization of activists and throwing eggs at minority members,” Gabashvili said.

General Secretary of the UNM Vano Merabishvili stated that in the case that the constitutional changes are approved, this will be a sign that the minority representatives were oppressed.

“I warn them not to act like this, as the action is a violation of the rules and the law,” Merabishvili said.

Executive director of ISFED, Nino Lomjaria, believes that the constitution requires a complete modification and a discussion.

“Discussing only certain topics from the constitution will not be too beneficial, as there are some articles in the constitution that will leave space for causing unrest, even if the suggested amendments are approved,” Lomjaria said.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks that the coalition had more expectations concerning obtaining a constitutional majority than was realistic.

“Some days ago the majority was sure that it could gain a constitutional majority, now there are some question marks concerning the issue. It is difficult to say whether the coalition will manage to approve the draft into the law,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.