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Majority offers consultations with opposition over draft constitution

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 17
The leader of the Georgian Dream majority, Archil Talakvadze, held a special briefing late on August 15 and stated that the majority was ready to meet with opposition members to agree on controversial issues in the draft constitutional amendments.

Talakvadze stated it was important the majority and the opposition reached a consensus on several issues regarding the country’s main legal code before the meeting in Strasbourg, which is scheduled in autumn by the initiative of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

“We all represent Georgia abroad - so it is important to discuss all important issues of the constitutional reform before the meeting in Strasbourg," Talakvadze said.

He stated the Parliament of Georgia started a very important process with the constitutional reforms in 2017, involving the civil society and other political parties in discussions.

“To this end, a commission was created which drafted the new constitution; public discussions were held throughout the country; consultations were held with the Venice Commission; and parliamentary discussions were also held,” majority MP Talakvadze stated, and thanked the members of the commission for their efforts.

The opposition parties said they were ready for such a meeting, but warned it “must not be a meeting for the sake of a meeting”.

One of the leaders of the European Georgia opposition party, Sergi Kapanadze, said there are “three key issues which must be necessarily agreed upon”.

He said the issues concerned the full move to the proportional elections from 2020, the direct election of the president and the sharing of undistributed votes between the parliamentary parties, more specifically, the votes which are received by the parties who failed to overcome the threshold.

Member of the United National Movement, Roman Gotsiridze, confirmed the party was ready for the meeting. Gotsiridze stresses the draft has already been adopted with two hearings by Parliament, which means only a third hearing is left concerning more technical issues.

“There are some, less important issues which could be modified in the third reading, such as the election barrier, creation of election blocs and other. As it appears the majority plans to manipulate events around these issues,” Gotsiridze said.

He added that according to some information the majority plans to offer no election barrier to the opposition parties if they accepted both majoritarian and proportional elections for 2020.

“Through the move, the majority will try to trap small parties and cause a stir in the opposition’s unity, as the opposition is unanimous now that the majoritarian election must be rejected,” Gotsiridze said.

The Georgian Dream leadership established the first Constitutional Commission in 2013, as the authorities believed the amendments made to the constitution under the leadership of United National Movement in 2010 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 enabling them to make changes to the country’s main legislative document.

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 have been followed by public discussions of the draft in various Georgian regions and Parliament.

In the final stage 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 inscribed in the draft by the ruling team.

As a result of discussions, the majority said it was willing to postpone abolishment of majoritarian elections until 2024.

The Venice Commission recommended the parties should reach an agreement on controversial issues regarding constitutional amendments to garner large-scale public support.