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UNM opposition refuses involvement for additional constitutional changes

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 1
The United National Movement (UNM) opposition party has refused to get involved in the public discussions of the remained four constitutional changes that will be added to the already-adopted new constitution allegedly in March.

The four changes concern the annulment of the vote bonus system, so that the party which gains more seats in the legislative body will not obtain the biggest portion of the votes received by the parties failing to overcome the election threshold. The undistributed votes will be fairly shared by the parliamentary parties.

The other three changes are permission to form electoral blocs solely for the 2020 parliamentary elections, specification of the record on freedom of religion, and specification of the record on the authority of the Constitutional Court regarding the elections.

UNM representative Roman Gotsiridze says he sees no importance in the participation of the discussions as the ruling Georgian Dream has “fitted all the changes to its interests.”

“We will not create such a comfort for the ruling team to participate in the useless process that is beneficial only for the Georgian Dream,” Gotsiridze said.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s administration has not yet announced their position over the participation.

The head of the presidential administration, Giorgi Abashishvili, stated that the ruling team was good at “re-writing the president’s veto remarks as a new draft.”

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated that in December, “we will hold two readings of the planned changes and the third and final reading will take place in March. All parties will have an opportunity to be involved in the discussions of the amendments for one month before the draft enters Parliament.”

Kobakhidze announced the creation of a special commission which will write the changes, composed of politicians, opposition, NGOs, experts and legal figures, and which will participate in public discussions for the draft.

Parliament Speaker also met US Ambassador Ian Kelly, who welcomed the changes as agreed with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

About a month ago, Parliament adopted changes in the constitution and some key points in the code were criticized by the opposition and the President.

The opponents demanded a full move to proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024, as well as the direct election of the president.

The ruling team did not take the demands into account and instead provided the four changes that would be added to the constitution.

The President used his veto to prevent the adoption of the constitution which was not based on a “large-scale consensus,” but his veto was overridden.