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Constitution under Venice Commission's expertise

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, May 23
After finishing nationwide public discussions throughout the country over the amendments to Georgian constitution – which was elaborated by the State Constitutional Commission – further consultations are taking place in Berlin on May 22-23.

The speaker of the Parliament of Georgia and Chair of the Constitutional Commission, Irakli Kobakhidze, as well as members of Parliament, the Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert, and a number of experts, representatives of the Administration of the President, constitutionalists and representatives of Non-governmental Organizations are discussing the draft constitutional law.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream (GD) faction, says the ruling party does not expect criticism from the representatives of the Venice Commission.

“We believe that eventually, the conclusion of the Venice Commission will be positive regarding all the issues, but in case there are any particular comments in negative context, we refuse to make such changes. We have announced this in advance,” Mdinaradze said.

Dirk Schattschneider, the head of the South-Eastern and Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Division of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, stated at the opening ceremony of the conference in Berlin that the State Constitution Commission has carried out 'hard work'.

“In such a short period of time the commission has carried out a serious amount of impressive work. We, the government of Germany, are closely observing the process,” he said.

Nationwide public discussions on the proposed draft of constitutional amendments started in Kutaisi on May 5 and covered ten additional cities and ten districts of Tbilisi.

The opposition, NGOs and the Presidential Administration have several remarks over the amendments.

They disapprove of maintaining the 5% election threshold, defined by the new amendments.

They also have remarks regarding the new rule of distributing mandates, according to which undistributed mandates will go to the political party which receives the most votes.

The third sector also disapproves of the prohibition on forming election blocs.

The Presidential Administration criticizes the reduction of the President’s functions, as well as the issue regarding indirect election of the President and abolition of the National Security Council and creating National Defense Council instead.

The opposition believes the amendments aim at giving even more power to the ruling GD party, which has a constitutional majority in the 150 member parliament with its 116 MPs.