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Growing Tension Between President and Ruling Party

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Monday, July 31
On July 26, the Parliamentary Speech of President's Parliamentary Secretary Ana Dolidze dedicated to the discussion of the presidential vetoes once again strained relations between the President and the ruling party.

After introducing the motivated remarks of the President regarding the local self-government and election bill, Ana Dolidze criticised Irakli Kobakhidze for his notes against the Presidential vetoes, but the Speaker interrupted her and pointed to the fact that as a public servant, she doesn't have the right to make political statements: "Making a political statement is a prerogative of the President, because, he is a politician, unlike you," said the Speaker of Parliament, but Dolidze didn't agree with this remark and noted that she is a political official who is appointed and dismissed by the President. During the meeting, Kobakhidze was addressing Ms. Dolidze as "Mr Giorgi," with this action indicating a negative attitude of the Speaker of Parliament towards the President and his office. This fact has rekindled the tension between the President and the Parliament.

After the meeting, the Parliament has released a statement in which President Margvelashvili was accused of encouraging the representatives of his office against the Parliament and urged him to take special steps to discontinue this disrespectful attitude. "It is not the first time when public servants of the Presidential administration are insulting the Parliament, this fact shows that they are encouraged and governed by the President,” reads the statement. In response to it, Margvelashvili stressed his representative in Parliament is a qualified and principal person and because of these qualities, the ruling party dislikes her.

Giorgi Margvelashvili was elected as President of Georgia on October 27, 2013. He was nominated as the Presidential candidate by the governing party. But the relations between Margvelashvili and the ruling party changed dramatically soon after the Presidential election. The political views of President and the "Georgian Dream" team slowly diverged from each other. One of the first public controversies between Margvelashvili and the Georgian Dream was the issue of Avlabari Presidential Residence. The opinions of the President and the majority did not coincide. The former leader of the "Georgian Dream" and ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili criticized him many times: "He is my biggest mistake because he is changing his views as a teenager," Ivanishvili admitted.

The relation remained tense between the President and ex- Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. They had a public controversy on who had to present Georgia at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The relationship has been uneasy between Margvelashvili and the current Prime Minister of Georgia - Giorgi Kvirikashvili as well. The Prime Minister criticised the President's stance regarding the constitutional reforms. "President's assessment or appeal to the majority is biased and unfair," said Kvirikashvili.

The strain between the President and the ruling party has reached a new level of hostility after the “Georgian Dream” presented an initiation over changing the mode of Presidential elections to the Constitutional Commission. According to it, President will not be elected directly, but will be appointed by Parliament. After negative reactions of the President and civil sector, authors of the amendment specified the initiative does not concern a Presidency of Giorgi Margvelashvili and if direct elections are to be abolished, it will not be applied to the next Presidential elections scheduled for 2018, but will be introduced much later in 2024.

Since the "Georgian Dream" has come to power in 2012, Georgia had three Prime Ministers and two Speakers of Parliament, all representing the majority - Georgian Dream. The exception concerns only former Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili, who represented the Republican Party. Usupashvili never had any public controversies with the President Margvelashvili.

It is a fact that for a few years, there has been an open confrontation between the President and the leading party and recent conflict between Speaker of Parliament Kobakhidze and President's Parliamentary Secretary Dolidze is one of such episodes from the series of confrontation.