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Opposition voices constitutional offers

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 13
Georgia’s parliamentary opposition parties and the President state that their offers for reaching a consensus on constitutional amendments have been known long, however, they decided to re-voice them amid the ruling team’s criticism about ‘a destructive attitude’.

The ruling team, which has tried to amend the constitution adopted by the United National Movement in 2010 since 2013, stress they are ready for dialogue, but state reaching a consensus is dependent on suggestions from the opposition.

The United National Movement opposition stated their key demands over the draft law of the constitution are chiefly a full move to proportional elections from 2020 and not for 2024, the direct election of the President and the fair sharing of undistributed votes between all political parties who appear in Parliament.

They strongly stand against the ruling team’s initiative to give most of the undistributed votes (votes received by parties failing to overcome the election threshold), to the party that will have the most seats in Parliament.

Almost the same preconditions were voiced by other political parties and the President.

The President also demands retaining the National Security Council under the rule of the President of Georgia.

Parliament Chair Irakli Kobakhidze says that the ruling team is ready for dialogue, but says that the withdrawal of the draft law, which has already been approved with two out of three readings in the legislative body, will not take place.

He stresses that there are some other measures to put changes in the draft law if the consensus is reached, despite the fact the remaining third reading has only a technical nature.

Kobakhidze also criticized the President and said there were ‘no constructive steps from the President’, who refused to participate in the four-month activities of the 73-member Constitutional Commission to produce the amendments.

Responding to this, the President’s administration says the ruling team is ‘at a dead end’, as they have been advised by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe to agree with their opponents on the most disputed parts of the constitutional draft law.

The Georgian Dream leadership established the first Constitutional Commission in 2013, as the authorities believed the amendments made to the constitution under the United National Movement leadership in 2010 included drawbacks and caused imbalance between different state institutions.

The Commission was re-established after the 2016 parliamentary elections, as unlike the 2012 elections the Georgian Dream gained a constitutional majority last year with 116 lawmakers out of the 150-member Parliament, which enabled them to put changes in the country’s main law.

The Constitutional Commission created last year was composed of 73 members from the ruling team, the opposition, NGOs, experts, and court representatives, to produce a draft of amendments in a four-month timeframe, which must be followed by public discussions of the draft in Georgian regions and hearings in Parliament.

In the final state of elaborating the draft in April this year, more than half of the members quit the Commission in protest, as they disapproved of several key changes written in the draft by the ruling team.