სახელმწიფო საკონსტიტუციო კომისია
The Speaker introduced the Constitutional reform to the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee
Our goal was to develop the Constitution to prevent us in formation of autocracy and the new draft is the best mechanism for it. It is a very democratic Constitution – the Speaker stated in Strasbourg when introducing the Constitutional reform to EU-Georgia PAC.
He spoke about the activity of the Constitutional Commission and noted that the current Constitution providing gaps will be substituted with a very democratic document.
The ruling team has shared all the recommendations of Venice Commission, he stated. “We initiative have made an ambitious statement to the Venice Commission regarding recommendations that we would share all of them. The Venice Commission plenary session was held earlier than I reading of the draft Constitutional Law. We shared all the recommendations by Venice Commission with minor exceptions mostly related to Georgian peculiarities and territorial issues. So, all significant recommendations are reflected in the documents, which is adopted with the II reading”.
The III reading will be held in September. The Speaker spoke about the essence of the changes and noted that democratic standards in each Article are significantly improved. “The document is in full compliance with the legal principles, fundamental principles of the Constitutional law and checks and balances mechanism”.
The main reason for confrontation was enactment of the proportional system. He elucidated that after the Venice Commission plenary session, the additional consultations were held with the Minority outlining that Minority even in enactment of the proportional system in 2020 was not going to support the draft.
“According to the initial document, the proportional system would be enacted for the next Parliamentary elections and this provision was reflected in the document submitted to the Venice Commission. After Venice, we held the additional consultations with the Minority and met with the leaders of Majority. The goal was to achieve consensus and the Parliamentary elections of course. We cherished hope that with enactment of the proportional system in 2020, we would achieve consensus with other political parties in the Parliament, though as outlined, the opposition was not going to support the Constitutional changes even in this case”.
The opposition had additional ultimatums. “One of them related to the Presidential elections. The Minority stated that in case of direct elections, they would not support the Constitutional changes. It was the main ultimatum. Another one was related to the taxes. In the Constitution we have the special provision on referendum necessary in case of set or increase of taxes. The third referendum was about the land issue. We have the provision prohibiting alienation of lands to foreign citizens. These were three ultimatums of the Minority”.
The ruling team should find the solution as it was impossible to obtain 113 votes for enactment of the proportional system for 2020. “We have last two changes: reject the Constitutional changes and offer different approach envisaging 2-stage process of adoption of the proportional system. This process envisages maintenance of the existing system for the 2020 Parliamentary elections and enactment thereof in 2024. These necessary changes have been introduced to the draft taking the political situation and impossibility of consensus with the Minority into account. It was a political matter which is the part of the process. And at last, we achieved consensus with the Minority regarding the 2-stage electoral system with some corrections – 3% threshold for the next elections, which means that more political parties will be able to obtain seats in the Parliament and these changes will enact for the next Parliamentary elections”.
Another issue entailing speculations was the future role of the President.
The Speaker stated that the President maintains the existing status and his competences remain unchanged. “Political parties and the President many times stated that this change was directed against the President in person. We initially evaded all the speculations offered by the Constitutional Commission to the Parliament. First of all, Presidential indirect elections will not be enacted for the next elections, which means that the incumbent President will have the opportunity to participate in the next Parliamentary elections and thus, we prevent reason for speculations. The President maintains his status and competences. There were speculations that it was a direct attack to the President and as if it was the only reason for the Constitutional changes but we eliminated the ground for speculations with the changes adopted with the II reading”.
He stated that the new draft excludes autocracy in long term run. “The previous Constitutions twice allowed two political parties establishing Constitutional majority and abusing this power. They managed to establish the semi or full autocracy in 90s and later. Our primary goal was to develop the Constitution to exclude autocracy and the new draft is the best mechanism for it. It is a very democratic Constitution formulating the proportional Parliamentary system, which excludes any attempts to establish autocracy and Georgia will have a long-term guaranteed democratic development prospect, which was the main goal of reforming”.
The meeting was attended by Venice Commission Secretary and MEPs. The Secretary made the comment. “We all, including the Majority and the opposition shall try to be constructive and contribute our mite in compromise”, - he stated.
“We know that additional efforts will ensure consensus regarding the Parliamentary elections and we hope that efforts will be successful”.