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Adopting all constitutional amendments pushed back to 2018

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 19
The Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, stated that the legislative body will likely adopt the remaining constitutional amendments in March 2018 after the approval of key changes in the country’s main law this month.

The amendments, which refer to the creation of election blocs for the 2020 parliamentary elections and the abolition of the bonus system (the sharing of votes received by the parties failing in elections between the parliamentary parties] are still yet to be reflected in the state constitution.

The two changes were initiated by the ruling party, through the recommendation of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, when the constitutional draft had already been adopted with its two readings, giving no chance to add the initiatives into the document.

The ruling party had appealed to the president to veto only the notes of the constitutional draft which did not allow the creation of election blocs for the next elections and stated that the party which gained more seats in parliament would receive most of the undistributed votes as a bonus.

Using the veto for just the notes would make it easier for the majority to make sure all the changes will be simultaneously reflected in the constitution, as in such a situation the ruling party would accept the veto and take the president’s motivated remarks into account.

However, the President also vetoed other notes and the ruling party had to overcome the veto, which meant a new draft must be initiated for the two changes.

Kobakhidze explained that according to the schedule set by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, by the end of 2017, new amendments will be adopted by two readings, adding the final reading will take place in March 2018.

"The new constitutional amendments can be initiated immediately after the recent constitutional amendments take effect. So, we will be able to initiate new amendments in about a week and they will reflect the recommendations given by the Venice Commission,” said Kobakhidze.

“We will consider only the recommendations given by the Venice Commission, and the project will be prepared according to these recommendations,” he added.

President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the constitutional bill in early October, which had been adopted by Parliament on September 26.

Afterwards, on October 13, the parliamentary GD majority overruled the presidential veto and adopted the primary version of the bill with 117 votes for and 7 against.

The presidential veto included six recommendations, among them the move to the fully proportional representation electoral system from 2020 and not from 2024, which is strongly opposed by the majority.