President Giorgi Margvelashvili refrained from commenting on the statements of former Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili, who stated that the President might resign if the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GDDG) decides to change the rule of electing the head of state directly.
“You are not asking me the right question. I will not comment on someone else’s comments,” Margvelashvili told reporters on January 3.
Davit Usupashvili, who left the Republican Party after the 2016 Parliamentary Elections and announced plans to establish a new political party, spoke about the President’s possible resignation in his interview with newspaper Kviris Palitra on January 2.
Although, as he said, he remains committed to the classical parliamentary model, where the President “is not elected through direct elections”, “such changes should be made based on a broad consensus,” because “whether we like it or not, people support direct election of the President.”
The rule of the President’s election will be clarified before April 30, 2017 by the state constitutional commission, which was established in December and which is boycotted by the President’s administration. The Commission is to elaborate the draft in four months, followed by legislative proposal and month-long nationwide discussions. The document will then go through parliamentary proceedings and be put to vote for approval with at least 113 votes. Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, who chairs the Commission, said that this process will take at least a year.
Davit Usupashvili said that “the political crisis” may emerge if “personal struggle with the President continues” or “GDDG’s inclinations of establishing total control further grows in parallel with the constitutional amendment.” Usupashvili also added that the Georgian Dream “cares not for imperfect constitution”, but “is irritated by the principle of division of powers.”
Usupashvili said that if GDDG, which holds the 116-member constitutional majority in the Parliament, decides “unilaterally” that the President should be elected indirectly, the President “has a complex of legal and political steps at his disposal, through which Georgian Dream’s ill-thought-out attempt may boomerang for the party.”
“A year before expiration of the President’s term in office – the President may address the Georgian people saying that ‘the Georgian Dream is depriving you of the right to elect the President directly, I am forceless to resist this change, but I will resign and before the amendment enters into force, I give you the chance to elect the President again and have elected President for five more years, till 2022. And in 2020, we will have to elect the new Parliament and let’s see, whether the new Parliament will deprive you of the right or keep you the right to elect ‘your’ President,” Usupashvili said.
“Such turn of events is realistic both from constitutional and political points of view,” he added.
President Margvelashvili’s five-year term in office expires in autumn 2018. In case of his pre-term resignation, early presidential elections will be held within 45 days.
“It may happen in June, when the Constitutional Commission elaborates the draft amendments,” Usupashvili explained.
“If Giorgi Margvelashvili or anyone else, non-governmental candidate wins the elections, the future president will become a serious figure in terms of its political weight. Thus, the Georgian Dream may receive much stronger president and political problems will start from there,” he noted.
Usupashvili also said that success in the 2020 parliamentary elections or joining the ruling coalition will be the goal of his new political force, on the formation of which he talks “a lot”, including with “politically not-so-active people.”
“We will do our best to promote this key task – winning the parliamentary elections, local [in October 2017] and presidential elections,” Usupashvili said in the interview.