Speaker Says Extra Session Regarding Draft Constitution to Be Held

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Speaker of Georgian Parliament, says the parliament has right to assemble at 14:00 on Tuesday and discuss draft constitution, as the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili refused to meet his request over calling the extra session.

Kobakhidze says at 14:01 on Sunday he addressed the Georgian President in a written way with a request to summon the extra session, but Margvelashvili refused to sign the request on scheduling an extra parliamentary session to discuss the constitutional changes.

The current constitution reads that if the President refuses to call the extraordinary meeting within 48 hours, the Parliament is authorized to assemble.

The Speaker says the President’s step was disrespect towards the parliament.

“Non-convocation of the sitting is incompliant with the Constitution and expression of disrespect of the Parliament. When the Parliament requests convocation of the extraordinary session, the President shall convene it,” he said.

Earlier, the President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Ana Dolidze stated that the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), which has supermajority in the parliament, does not understand what negotiations over the constitution mean.

“Dialogue and consensus over the issue are necessary and the majority sees it as a destructive action,” she stressed.

The initiative came after the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) agreed to take into account several recommendations of the Venice Commission, which issued a preliminary report on September 22.

The Commission says that the postponement of the entry into force of the proportional election system from 2020 to 2024 is “highly regrettable and a major obstacle to reaching consensus.”

The document reads that the new complex system for the distribution of unallocated mandates adopted in the second reading reduces the effects of the bonus for the winning party, but still very much favors the strongest party in the country.

“The Venice Commission therefore strongly welcomes the commitment of the parliamentary majority to consider abandoning the bonus system altogether and adopting the full proportional distribution system as from 2024,” the report reads. 

However, the draft opinion reads that the commitment of the parliamentary majority in the letter of 20 September 2017 to consider allowing party blocks, together with the reduction of the election threshold to 3% at the 2020 elections is to be welcomed.

The Commission also welcomes the introduction of the requirement of a qualified majority of two-thirds of the votes of the total number of electors in the Election Board in a presidential election and the requirement of a qualified majority in the election of three judges of the Constitutional Court and a number of members of the High Judicial Council by Parliament.

The current regulations does not allow to directly make the changes to the country’s main document, as only its third and final reading is left. This means that the parliament will have to approve the Constitution Draft without any changes, then launch negotiations about the constitution changes and arrange discussions over the issue again.

The majority assures that the extraordinary session is needed for discussing this issue.

Parliamentary opposition parties say they will not take part in the extra session.

As reported by the European Georgia member Irakli Abesadze, the parliamentary minority has expressed its position in the first hearing and it is absolutely useless to take part in the third hearing.

The members of the United National Movement hope that the President of Georgia will veto the Constitutional Project. 

“The consensus was not reached. Opposition parties will hold a meeting and elaborate a joint action plan,” the UNM member Salome Samadashvili stated.

By Thea Morrison

Related stories

Venice Commission’s Recent Report on Draft Constitution

Venice Commission President: Strasburg Meeting Cancelled


26 September 2017 07:31