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Minority wants test vote before giving their support

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 21
Parliamentary minority is ready to support the constitutional changes that will restrict the president's powers if the parliament agrees on a test vote. A statement concerning the issue was made on March 20 after a closed door meeting between the minority representatives.

At least 100 votes are required for a constitutional amendment to be adopted. Currently the Georgian Dream has 83 lawmakers; the UNM has 53 MPs (initially it had 65, but 12 lawmakers quit the UNM since the October elections).

Minority MP Davit Bakradze stated that the claims of the majority that it can adopt the constitutional changes without the votes of the minority is far from reality and in the case that the test voting takes place before the voting of the constitutional changes, this fact will be revealed.

"If the Georgian Dream really has more than 100 votes as they boast - no problem, in this case they do not need our votes and they will pass the amendment without our support," Bakradze stated, adding that to make everything clear, a test vote should be held.

“According to our estimations the Georgian Dream has no more than 94 votes, so they need our support,” Bakaradze stated and stressed that the minority is ready to give the coalition the votes they lack.

"We will give them exactly as many votes as they require for endorsing this constitutional changes but let's stop this kind of talk that the Georgian Dream will do it by ignoring our opinion," Bakradze said.

Responding to the issue, Parliament Chair Davit Usupashvili stated that the constitutional changes will not be carried out without the votes of the minority.

Usupashvili also underscored that the UNM’s approach that it would give as many votes as the Georgian Dream would require a two-thirds majority was not right.

“The parliamentary majority is not requesting support. The parliamentary majority is offering the parliamentary minority to be part of the process in order for the parliament to regain its power,” Usupashvili stated.

Usupashvili also emphasized that if the parliamentary minority group wants to clarify the situation within its ranks, then it can hold a test vote and clarify it with other methods as well if they want it.

“So the situation is very clear and tomorrow I hope the parliament will make the right decision,” Usupashvili stated.

The parliament speaker’s “recognition” that the constitutional changes will not take place without the minority's votes was positively assessed by the UNM members. According to them, Usupashvili’s statement differed from other Georgian Dream member’s statements and was a “step forward.”

Usupashvili explained that his statement was not agreement on holding the test vote. The parliament chair underscored that whether a test vote is held or not will be decided in the morning on March 21.

According the political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili, the majority should appeal to the minority to support the constitutional changes and ask 40 votes from them.

“Only humor might neutralize the situation…in this case, the majority will not enable the minority to speculate during some other voting that they had supported the majority. At the same time, the majority will not enable the minority to put pressure on the UNM members to support the constitutional changes,” Tsikasrishvili stated, adding that test vote is a primitive obstinacy that lacks legal basis.

“Minority members should realize that they should support the state's development if they vote for the constitution changes and not a concrete individual,” Tsiskarishvili stated.

A discussion on the constitutional changes launches on March 21.