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Speaker of Parliament addresses President to use veto for some notes in constitutional draft

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 28
Georgia’s Speaker of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze has addressed President Giorgi Margvelashvili to use his veto only for two notes in the recently adopted constitutional draft.

The Speaker of Parliament claims that a veto on the part of the document referring to the undistributed votes and election blocs will save time, and the constitution (which he says is in “full line” with European standards) will come into play in several weeks.

“The President, who has played only a destructive role in the constitutional process, can now be constructive,” Kobakhidze said.

The ruling party initiated several changes in the constitutional draft after the draft had already been adopted with two key readings in the legislative body.

The initiative included the abolition of a bonus system in terms of undistributed votes, referring to sharing the votes received by parties failing to overcome electoral thresholds.

The current draft reads that a bigger portion of the votes must be taken by the party which receives the most votes in the parliamentary elections.

The ruling party’s current initiative reads that the votes would be fairly shared between the parliamentary parties.

In addition, the current draft prohibits the creation of election blocs.

However, in its initiative, the ruling party permitted such for the next 2020 parliamentary elections.

The ruling team claimed that the initiative was a concession to the opposition, while the opposition stressed their main demands were moving to the fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024, and the direct election of the president by people and not by a committee composed of delegates.

The reflection of the initiative over the blocs and undistributed votes in the adopted amendments requires a separate bill that will take time if the President refuses to use his veto for only some parts of the constitutional changes.

“The document which must resist centuries fails to resist hours,” the President’s Parliamentary Secretary Anna Dolidze stated.

“We were asked to put changes in the draft several hours after its adoption with its third reading,” she added.

The Secretary stated that the situation in terms of the constitution is “not serious and surprising.”

However, she claimed that the President will hold consultations with all parties - including the ruling faction - over the offer.

Parliament adopted the constitutional amendments with a third and final reading on September 26, amid strong opposition criticism; the opposition parties ultimately left the parliament building in protest.

The opposition and the President, as well as a number of NGOs, believe that the constitutional amendments are not based on a large-scale public consensus and the draft is a “one-party” document.

Since the Parliament adopted the changes, now the President must sign or veto it.

If the President vetoes the draft, Parliament will either take the President’s motivated remarks into account over the draft or override the veto.

After overriding the veto, Speaker of Parliament will sign the draft and it will come into play as a law.

The previous United National Movement government changed the constitution in 2010, and the Georgian Dream party (which believed the changes were fitted to the UNM and ex-President Mikehil Saakashvili’s interests), initiated to change it once again to be in full line with the “highest standards”.