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Will a compromise be achieved?

By Khatia Kardava
Monday, August 21
Key questions are lingering as the dialogue between the government and opposition over constitutional amendments revives

On August 15, the leader of the parliamentary majority, Archil Talakvadze, declared that the ruling team invited all qualified opposition parties to reconsider the constitutional amendments. As a result, the meeting among representatives of parliamentary majority and opposition took place on Friday without any substantial outcomes.

On August 16, eight opposition parties released a joint statement outlining the priority issues. The opposition is expecting from the ruling team that they will compromise. Otherwise, according to them ‘the dialogue is useless.”

In the statement, it is said that the government must unconditionally return to its initially proposed political vision and ensure a transfer to a fully proportional system by 2020 parliamentary elections.

In addition, the opposition thinks that one of the most important issues is to ensure a fair distribution of so called "undistributed mandates" between the political forces in parliament.

The opposition considers as its key issue to preserve the rule of direct elections of the president, however, taking into account the fact that the "Georgian Dream" has a radically different position, it is desirable to conduct a plebiscite in parallel with the local elections.

It is also noteworthy that the "Georgian Dream" did not invite the President and his representatives to the meeting on Friday.

On the other hand, the presidential administration speaks about the necessity of broad consensus and the need for broad participation in the negotiation process.

"The president believes this can only be the beginning of the process. It is important to consult with all serious civil society groups, as well as with the constitutional body, and try to reach a consensus, " said President’s parliamentary secretary, Ana Dolidze.

The constitutional reform is actively discussed in civil society as well. Five NGOs published a statement on consultations regarding the amendments, which says that in the first stage it is necessary to reach a consensus over the parliamentaryelectoral system:

"We believe the key issue in the draft constitution is the transition to a proportional electoral system for 2020 parliamentary elections,” reads the statement.

The dialogue between the opposition parties and the majority on constitutional changes was held on August 18 and will continue next week. According to representatives of parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties, the meeting with the ruling party ended without any specific agreement or concrete results.

The main question, which compromises the negotiating sides are ready to make, remains unanswered. The opposition parties claim they are united and their principal position on the abolition of the majoritarian election system will not change. Representatives of the ruling party did not present their proposals on Friday. They made it clear that at this stage they would listen to the demands. The leader of parliamentary majority Archil Talakvadze said the final decision will be made after internal consultations.

"Today's meeting serves only as the discussion of all important issues between opposition parties and the parliamentary majority," he said.

According to him, the majority will begin consultations after the parties submit their requests in a written form. Considering the steps undertaken so far, it seems there will be the next round of the dialogue between the opposition and the ruling party. However, it is difficult to assess at this stage to what extend it will be successful.