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NGOs address Venice Commission

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 11
Four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have published a joint assessment of the State Constitutional Commission for the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law.

The Venice Commission will provide its assessments and recommendations regarding the changes in Georgia’s main legal code in the summer, before the Parliament of Georgia votes for the amendments.

As Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze vowed, “no change” will be put in the country’s Constitution if it is disliked by the Venice Commission.

The NGOs’ document reflects the positions of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), Transparency International Georgia and Open Society Georgia Foundation.

These four organizations were members of the State Constitutional Commission and were presented in all four working groups of the Commission.

The purpose of the joint assessment was to provide the Venice Commission with a detailed analysis of the working process and format of the Constitutional Commission, the NGOs say.

"The electoral system, in particular the rule of distribution of undistributed mandates, is particularly problematic. The draft constitution provides for the unlimited bonus for the party which will hold the first place in the elections, according to which, all undistributed mandates will be given to one party. This aspect of the electoral system is unfair and significantly degrades the positive result of the abolition of the majoritarian system.

“At the same time, the abolition of election blocs in light of maintaining the 5% threshold raises a risk that the number of undistributed mandates will be high, which threatens political pluralism. Non-governmental organizations believe that the constitution should provide for the distribution of mandates proportionally among all parties in Parliament,” says the statement of the NGOs.

The NGOs have expressed readiness for cooperation with the Venice Commission.

In addition, the Venice Commission's recommendations will be very important from a different point of view.

Of course, the remarks will be impartial from a political perspective and will display how effectively the Georgian Constitutional Commission worked.

It is very likely the Venice Commission will have some questions about the definition marriage in the Constitution, or the sharing of the undistributed votes or some other issues.

It will be interesting whether the ruling team manages to keep its previous promise over compromising its stance in line with the Venice Commission’s remarks or not.