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TI Georgia appeals to Parliament to wait for Venice Commission’s report on constitutional draft

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 6
The head of one of the most influential NGOs in Georgia, Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, says the draft of the constitution should not be adopted until the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe provides its final report about the bill.

"The Venice Commission is an institution that impartially offers assessments and opinions to governments by taking into account international practices,” Gigauri said.

She stated that initially the ruling party said they would take into account every opinion of the Venice Commission.

“This means they should carefully consider everything recommended by the Venice Commission. It is very important that Parliament adopts a draft constitution after the final report of the Venice Commission is issued," Gigauri said.

However, she said she had no positive expectations for changing the electoral system, referring to moving to fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024.

"We have seen, in fact, that the ruling party makes decisions with no regard to the opinions of the opposition. However, I hope that our European partners will continue to communicate with the Georgian government and it will be possible to achieve a compromise. It would be welcomed to have a consensus between the ruling party and the opposition parties," Gigauri said.

Giorgi Kakhiani, Chairman of the Committee on Procedural Issues and Rules in the legislative body, announced that Parliament would adopt a draft constitution in the third reading in late September, as the draft has already been adopted through two key readings.

He stressed that only editorial and stylistic changes would be made to the draft constitution in the third reading

The majority representative MP Nukri Kantaria said the Venice Commission has “no remarks over the legal issues” to the draft of the constitution.

He stressed the consensus within the majority over moving to the fully proportional elections from 2024 was more important than a consensus with opposition parties, which “strive towards their own narrow political interests.”

The initial draft of the constitution sent to the Venice Commission reads that Georgia will move to fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024; the latter date is currently written in the revised draft through the initiative of the ruling party.

The key demands of the opposition include a move to fully proportional elections from 2020, the direct election of the president, the fair sharing of undistributed votes (the votes received by parties failing to overcome thresholds in the elections) between the parliamentary parties and the possibility to create election blocs.

The Venice Commission announced they would provide its recommendations over the revised draft in a month’s time.