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Opposition Calls for Dialogue over Constitutional Amendments
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Jul.'17 / 09:49

Opposition parties call on the government to engage into dialogue for developing “a compromising draft” of the constitutional amendments.
 
For this purpose, the Coordinating Council consisting of about 15 qualified opposition parties held a meeting on July 5, which was attended by President’s Political Secretary, Fikria Chikhradze, foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia, as well as representatives of civil society organizations and the Public Defender’s Office.
 
The draft constitutional amendments, approved by the Parliament with its first and second hearings, triggered opposition’s criticism mostly in respect of its election-related provisions.   
 
The opposition slammed the ruling party for its decision to postpone the introduction of proportional electoral system to 2024, as well as the decision to ban the creation of political party blocs ahead of elections.
 
The opposition also demands not to code the decision on reducing the electoral threshold from 5% to 3% as a transitional provision in the constitution (which will apply to the 2020 parliamentary elections only) and instead, make it a permanent norm.
 
It was also noted at the meeting there is no consensus on the issues of parliamentary electoral system and the registration of electoral blocs among the country’s political parties.
 
“Opposition parties confirmed readiness for a dialogue with the government in order to develop a compromising draft by the third hearing. We are ready to discuss the constitutional reform issues, as well as other initiatives related to the electoral environment,” reads a joint appeal released at the meeting.
 
“It is the Georgian President’s position that we should try and should appeal to the Government to [jointly] take all necessary steps towards dialogue, consent, consensus and further legitimization of this process,” President’s Political Secretary Pikria Chikhradze said.
 
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, who is paying an official visit to Strasbourg, said that the ruling party welcomes consultations.
 
“We welcome any type of consultations over constitutional reform and we are ready to get involved in these consultations. It is very important for us to reach a consensus over the document and the Georgian Dream will spare no efforts to achieve it,” Kobakhidze said.
 
The Parliament passed constitutional amendments with its first and second readings in June. Two parliamentary opposition parties – the United National Movement and the Alliance of Patriots – refused to participate in parliamentary discussions and boycotted the entire process. Lawmakers from the third opposition party – the Movement for Liberty – European Georgia – walked out of the Parliament chamber as a sign of protest following the first reading. 
 
The lawmakers will discuss and pass the constitutional amendments with its third and final reading during the autumn session.

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