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Will Georgia's parliament return to Tbilisi?

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, October 2
Like most of the opposition, the Georgia Dream coalition did not support moving the parliament to Kutaisi. This was before the parliamentary elections in 2012.

The United National Movement (UNM) and its leader President Mikheil Saakashvili, stubbornly repeat that the parliament should stay in Kutaisi, while the initiative of the Georgian Dream was mild and modest and advocated the deletion of the sentence in the constitution that says that the parliament should stay in Kutaisi.

The UNM promoted the idea of moving the parliament to Kutaisi in order to decentralize the government, to help the economic development of Kutaisi, and to secure the safety of the legislative bodies. Opponents of this idea dismiss these arguments as nonsense and believe that tens of millions of GEL were spent in waste. They say that the development of Kutaisi and the decentralization of the country could be done without moving the parliamentary building from Tbilisi to Kutaisi because according to the UNMís logic, the parliament should be constantly moved from place to place, to ensure the safety of this body. On the contrary, if an enemy like Russia wants to attack the Georgian parliament, it can easily do so no matter the location of the parliament.

So the UNM began the construction of the new structure in haste. It also started reconstructing the parliamentary building in Tbilisi in haste. There are many discrepancies in the financial aspects of the project. Until recently, there are no legal documents available that show who ordered the old parliament to be dismantled or even how much was spent on the construction of the parliament building in Kutaisi.

There are many faults in the construction. There are no windows in the glassy building and it requires a great amount of electricity for ventilation. This is expensive together with the air conditioning and heating systems. Moreover, there are problems with communication between the governmental institutions operating in Tbilisi and the parliamentary MPs working in Kutaisi. Sometimes it takes more than 3 hours for a meeting between Tbilisi and Kutaisi. Sometimes state officials complain that they have to travel to and fro twice a day.

That much traveling increased their petrol expenses. Professional staff of the parliament moved from Tbilisi to Kutaisi and the government has to hire flats for them. Thus, the expenses considerably increase.

Either way, there are many logical reasons to returning the parliament to the capital. However, without a constitutional majority, no consensus can be achieved over this issue. If the necessary changes are not introduced to the constitution before October 4 when the parliament stops operating until the election is over, the situation will become more complicated because after the new president is elected on October 27, the new amendments will enter into force in the constitution which stipulate that the constitutional majority in the parliament could be achieved not by 2/3 of MPs but with ? of the votes. This would be difficult even theoretically.

Different polling suggests that the majority of the Georgian population supports the idea of returning the parliament to Tbilisi.