The messenger logo

Venice Commission Disapproves GD’s decision to delay introduction of proportional elections

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, June 30
Gianni Buquicchio, the President of the Venice Commission, stated while visiting Georgia on June 29 that he is saddened by the decision of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to delay the introduction of a fully proportional election system until 2024 instead of 2020, as was agreed after the four-month work of the State Constitution Commission and consultations with NGOs, civil society and the Venice Commission.

“I am saddened and disappointed because this process was a really promising one. For once, Georgia's political forces and society were in agreement and with our modest advice and assistance we did a good job. Now everything is under a question mark,” Buquichio stressed, and invited all political forces of Georgia to try their best to find a compromise.

Buquicchio added that Georgia is a European country with European aspirations and it should have a constitution based on a consensus and not only adopted by a parliamentary majority.

The same message was delivered by the President of the Venice Commission during a meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze in Georgia’s Black Sea city of Batumi. According to Buquicchio, he wants Georgia's new Constitution to be properly drafted legislation.

“We had a very interesting conversation with the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament. They explained the reasons for this crisis,” he said after the meeting.

Kvirikashvili told Buquichio that the amendments to the constitution were elaborated through the active engagement of NGOs, politicians and independent experts, which was followed by nationwide discussions in various cities.

The PM assured the Venice Commission official that Georgia will have a constitution that will ensure a full value parliamentary governance model and a more effective government.

“We highly appreciate the support of the Venice Commission for our country and very much appreciate Mr. Buquicchio's very important recommendations,” he said after the meeting.

On his own, the Speaker of Parliament underlined that everything will be done to reach a consensus which will ensure Georgia’s democratic development.

“The Constitution of Georgia will be not only legitimate, but it will be the most elaborated document to ensure Georgia's long-term development,” Kobakhidze said.

The decision of the ruling party to leave the existing mixed majoritarian-proportional system until 2024 was also opposed by a number of Georgian NGOs.

Three days ago, 30 NGOs sent an open letter to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, members of the European Parliament, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert, and US Department of State regarding the issue, saying the actions of the ruling party affect the quality of democracy in the country and is a “dangerous attempt to consolidate political power”.

The NGOs claim that the ruling party does not want to change the existing mixed election system because it favors the party in power.

The organizations call on the EU and US structures to use all powers to help them mitigate and prevent these “very unfavorable developments” taking place in Georgia, until the new Constitution is finally passed and approved in the autumn.