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Georgia’s Opposition Slams Ruling Party for Adopting Constitutional Amendments

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 15
(TBILISI) – Georgia’s parliamentary opposition sharply criticized the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party for approving amendments to the country’s new constitution that creates election blocs for the 2020 parliamentary elections and abolition of the bonus system (the sharing of votes received by the parties failing in elections among the rest parliamentary parties) by 2024.

The key amendment that has created the sharpest rebuke from the opposition concerns a change that will see direct elections for the President phased out by 2023. The popular vote will be replaced by an electoral college consisting of 300 delegates, half of which will be sitting MPs, who will then elect the President.

The constitutional court will also be empowered and given the authority to declare elections invalid or unconstitutional.

Furthermore, the freedom of religion, assembly and association - Article 16 in the current constitution will be changed.

The opposition parties claim the GD adopted changes without taking into account the remarks of the minority.

“How can we call this constitution a good one if the majority makes amendments a month after its adoption?” said Sergo Ratiani, a member of the opposition European Georgia party.

Main opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) claims the new constitution is meant to protect the GD.

Despite the opposition parties not taking part in the voting or drafting process of the new amendments, GD parliamentary majority leader MP Archil Talakvadze claims the changes reflect the demands of the opposition, NGOs and the Venice Commission.

The Parliament adopted a new constitution on September 26. The President of Georgia President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the constitutional bill in early October, but the GD parliamentary majority overturned Margvelashvili‘s veto and adopted the bill with 117 votes for and only seven against.