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Parliament adopts constitutional amendments amid strong criticism

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 26
The Georgian Dream ruling majority, which has 116 MPs in Parliament, adopted the proposed changes to the country’s main law, the Constitution, with its second reading last week.

The amendments, which include the delay of a full move to a proportional election system, as well as indirect presidential elections after 2018, were supported by 115 lawmakers.

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the adoption of the law with its second reading was a “victory of the Georgian people, and the defeat of destructive forces”.

Parliament will return to discussing the draft law after three months, as three readings are mandatory for the final adoption of a law in Parliament.

However, major changes are put in a bill during two readings and the third reading is mainly focused on technical details.

The opposition and the NGOs claim that the amendments, if adopted, “will have no legitimacy” , as there was “no consensus” achieved over several key issues between the majority and other players.

They also stress that the version the majority sent to the Venice Commission, reads that Georgia moved to the fully proportional elections from 2020, and not in 2024 which was now settled.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, with 77 lawmakers elected thorough proportional elections and the remaining 73 via a majoritarian race.

The Georgian Dream majority promised a move to a proportional system, which mainly favored the ruling force, prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections.

The Venice Commission welcomed the majority of the changes that would be bought in the constitution, among them the move to the proportional system.

The opposition says that now the Georgian Dream cheated both the people of Georgia and the international community.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that all of the changes in the Constitution contribute to the country’s democratic development.

“I want to address our society to realise the value of these achievements and welcome the progress that the constitutional changes will bring to the country in terms of balancing the branches of government and increasing the quality of democracy,” Kvirikashvili said.

The Prime Minister stated that after the 2010 constitutional amendments by the United National Movement leadership, the country ended up with a constitution containing numerous flaws, inconsistencies, and norms introduced in defiance of constitutional logic.

He said the elimination of the flaws was the reason why the State Constitutional Commission was established to bring together politicians, NGOs, and independent experts.