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Venice Commission Recommendations over Draft Constitution

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, September 25
The Venice Commission has released a draft opinion with several recommendations over Georgia’s draft constitution, adding it is regrettable that some of their previous remarks were not taken into account.

The Commission says that the postponement of the entry into force of the proportional election system from 2020 to 2024 is “highly regrettable and a major obstacle to reaching a consensus”.

However, the draft opinion reads that the commitment of the parliamentary majority in the letter of 20 September 2017 to consider allowing party blocs, together with the reduction of the election threshold to 3% at the 2020 elections is to be welcomed.

“Those amendments aim to alleviate the negative effects of the postponement of the entry into force of the proportional election system to 2024,” the document reads.

“The new system responds to the previous recommendation of the Venice Commission to at least reduce the effects of the bonus system, it still very much favors the strongest party in a country with a tradition of overwhelming majorities for the strongest party,” the Commission added.

Therefore, the Venice Commission strongly welcomes the commitment of the parliamentary majority to consider abandoning the bonus system and adopting a fully proportional distribution system of unallocated mandates to all political parties which clear the 5% election threshold.

“Such a system would favor pluralism in Parliament and be fully in line with European standards. The Venice Commission expects that this step will not only be considered, but immediately adopted,” the opinion reads.

The Commission also welcomes the introduction of the requirement of a qualified majority of two-thirds of the votes of the total number of electors in the Election Board in a presidential election and the requirement of a qualified majority in the election of three judges of the Constitutional Court and a number of members of the High Judicial Council by Parliament.

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze says the process of constitutional reform was positively evaluated in the report of the Venice Commission.

"The report of the Commission states that proportional electoral system with 5% electoral threshold, which will be launched after the next parliamentary elections, is fully compatible with legal standards and this is a progressive step, a step that has never been taken by any government yet," Kobakhidze said.

The Speaker also added the Commission calls for consensus over the draft, adding the opposition parties did not do anything to agree on several issues.

Unlike the majority, the opposition thinks the draft report of the Venice Commission is not positive at all.

Giga Bokeria, a member of the European Georgia parliamentary minority, says the majority did not share all the recommendations of the Venice Commission and did not agree to switch to a proportional system from 2020, as had been agreed before.

The majority is going to adopt the draft constitution with the third reading, scheduled for September 26.

The ruling Georgian Dream party has 116 MPs in the 150-seat parliament.