The messenger logo

International pressure over amended constitution

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 30
Georgian parliamentary opposition parties say the Georgian Dream ruling party is trying to somehow “drag” the opposition into consultations over the draft of the constitution as the authorities face “strong international pressure” over the planned changes.

The United National Movement (UNM) opposition claims that the ruling party’s attempt over including their involvement is a “trap”.

They say if the opposition re-enters the dialogue, the Georgian Dream party will try to shift the blame of disruption of the consultations onto the opposition parties, and display itself as the only constructive force in the country in the eyes of the international community.

“The government is creating the illusion of negotiations,” UNM member Roman Gotsiridze said.

A representative of the European Georgia opposition, Sergi Kapanadze, says the Georgian Dream has already been informed over the opposition’s demand over the draft of the constitution for several times.

“They know that our key demands are about the full move to the proportional elections from 2020 and electing the president by people,” Kapanadze said.

He said the opposition has always been ready for consultations and stressed that the European Georgia party also intended to attend a meeting with the Venice Commission in Strasbourg on September 6.

The Georgian Dream offered a renewed dialogue with the opposition about two weeks ago in the wake of the appeal of the Venice Commission to reach a deal oncontroversial constitutional issues.

The Venice Commission, which provides recommendations over the draft, stresses the importance of the renewed constitution, which will be adopted through the large-scale public consensus.

The ruling team asked the opposition to write down the points they wished to see in the amended constitution.

The opposition unanimously wrote down their demands and highlighted two key issues: the replacement of majoritarian elections for 2020, and the direct election of the president.

Despite the fact the opposition hasrepeatedly stated their demands, Parliament Speaker IrakliKobakhidze said the opposition was attempting to cause controversy and appealed to them to clearly stress their demands and accused them of creating obstacles for reaching an agreement.

The Georgian Dream launched their constitution amendments in 2013, as they believed the changes made to the country’s main legal code adopted under the United National Movement leadership in 2010 created misbalance between key state institutions.

However, in 2013 the Georgian Dream party did not have the constitutional majority it enjoys now; after last year’s parliamentary elections the Georgian Dream emerged with 116 MPs in Parliament, and so renewed its efforts to change the constitution and vowed that no changeswould be made if they were disapproved of by the Venice Commission.

As the ruling team and the opposition still fail to achieve an agreement on the controversial issues, the Venice Commission proposed a meeting with the parties in Strasbourg for September 6.

The civil sector shares the opposition’s demands and says that majoritarian elections generally favor ruling parties and this is the key reason the Georgian Dream party is trying to postpone the implementation of proportional elections after 2020.