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President dismisses constitutional draft

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 11
The President of Georgia has dismissed the constitutional draft and sent six motivated remarks to Parliament.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili claims that if his remarks are taken into account, Georgia will have a constitution based on “consent.”

The majority stated that the President failed to play a constructive role in the constructional reform.

In his remarks the President reflected both the majority’s and the opposition’s appeals. The remarks cover 6 points, out of which four were in the interests of the majority and the remaining two were strongly demanded by the opposition.

The four issues concern the creation of election blocs for the next parliamentary elections, the sharing of undistributed votes between the parliamentary parties, reforms in the constructional court and changing the points about freedom of religious and assembly.

The issues demanded by the opposition and reflected by its dismissal, include the full move to a fully proportional representation election system from 2020, and not from 2024 and the direct election of the President.

The opposition and NGOs welcomed the President’s dismissal of this and described it as a chance of adopting the constitution which would be in the state, not only the ruling party’s, interests.

The majority had asked the President to dismiss only two parts of the draft about the election blocks and a bonus system, and stated they were ready for some other changes, as when the majority initiated the changes towards the two issues, the draft had already been adopted with its two main readings.

In the case of the President dismissing only majority-offered sections, the majority would support the remarks and the amended constitution would come into play earlier.

If the majority overrides the President’s decision with at least 76 votes in the 150-member legislative body, with the majority holding 116 seats, the ruling party will have to prepare a new draft solely about the two changes, which will of course take time.

The majority says that they are very likely to override the veto in the week, which means the Speaker of Parliament will sign the draft and the changes will come into play.

Georgia now has a mixed electoral system with 73 lawmakers elected through the majoritarian race and 77 via the party-list, which is a proportional representation system.

The majoritarian representation model has favored ruling parties, but the opposition has demanded the rejection of this type of elections for years.

The Georgian Dream initiated the constitutional changes shortly after they came to power in 2012. However, at that time they did not have the constitutional majority, at least 113 MPs, in Parliament to carry out the changes.

The Georgian Dream claimed that the constitution amendment by the United National Movement in 2010, was fitted to the interests of then president Mikheil Saakashvili, and caused misbalance between state institutions.

In the 2016 parliamentary elections the Georgian Dream gained the constitutional majority, consequently a lever to change the constitution.