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President addresses State Constitution Commission to reveal its position over election amendments

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 14
The President of Georgia has appealed to the State Constitutional Commission to express its position on the draft constitutional amendments submitted to the Parliament over certain changes in the election code that excludes rejecting of the majoritarian elections until 2020.

The parliament, according to the ruling Georgian Dream proposal, should be entirely elected through a proportional system in multiple-member voting districts. The bill also envisages lowering the electoral threshold from 5 to 4%.

"As it is known, more than 50% of MPs have signed the proposal on constitutional changes. I want to explain that these amendments are to be made to the supreme law, and therefore, they are of utmost importance.

“At the same time, I want to remind the public that the country has a Constitutional Commission. I would like to ask the Commission to express its position about these most significant amendments. I think it is important for further deepening of constitutionalism,” said President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

The opposition and NGOs stress that the majoritarian system should be abolished as it was promised by the current state leadership before the came to power.

They claim that the majoritarian system provides benefits only for the ruling team.

Expert of Constitution issues Vakhushti Menable states that the State Constitution Commission is paralyzed.

“The only obligation envisaged by the commission in case of a new bill is a public hearing, which will probably start after the bill’s initiation.

“Therefore, if the Parliament passes the constitutional amendments without the Constitutional Commission, it will not be in violation of law, but it is obvious that would be better if the bill passes through a variety of filters. The Constitutional Commission is one of such filters, a platform for discussions.

“The problem is the commission’s function is near-paralyzed. It has not held any meetings for the last few months,” he said.

According to him, majority MPs have been ignoring the commission for an entire year and it existed only due to independent experts, non-parliamentary opposition and certain MPs.

The GD coalition states that the decision of the delay of a system changes in the election code is based on a belief that while Georgian Dream is in power, the Georgian political system will achieve in coming years the level of development, which is necessary for prevention of difficulties related with introduction of fully proportional electoral system.

The GD ruling coalition has 86 seats in 150-member parliament, 27 short of the three-fourths super-majority required to pass a constitutional amendment.

Georgia currently has a mixed system in which 73 lawmakers are elected in 73 majoritarian, single-mandate constituencies through plurality vote, and rest 77 seats are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, which clear 5% threshold.

It happens quite often in some other states as well when an elected party ignores its pre-election promises.

It is more likely that in the current situation, when the GD should not be completely sure of its success in the upcoming 2016 elections, a rejection of the majoritarian elections is not in its interests.

As the coalition failed to improve the economic condition of ordinary Georgians, it might face serious problems even with the current majoritarian system in the upcoming race.