Nationwide Discussions on Constitutional Amendments Launched

Nationwide public discussions on the proposed constitutional amendments, envisaging transfer to fully proportional election system from 2020, started from eastern Georgian town of Telavi on September 13. Public discussions are a formal procedure required for any constitutional amendment.

The parliamentary commission led by Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze presented the constitutional bill to local population. Representatives of non-parliamentary opposition and experts also attended the meeting.

“It is largely thanks to the society that we will be holding fully proportional elections in 2020 with natural threshold,” Speaker Talakvadze said at the meeting. He also thanked the political parties and the youths in particular, for “holding an honest protest demanding proportional polls already from 2020 not long ago.”

The current version of the Constitution, adopted in September 2017, and further amended in 2018, foresaw a proportional system with 5% threshold to kick in starting 2024.

On June 24, 2019, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia leader Bidzina Ivanishvili conceded that the current, mixed election system will be replaced by fully proportional, party list election system starting from 2020, rather than 2024, as originally intended. This was one of the demands of the protesters that hit the streets on June 20 triggered by the Russian delegation’s presence at a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the parliament’s plenary chamber on June 20.

At present, there are two separate constitutional bills, envisaging transfer to fully proportional election system from 2020, one developed by opposition parties and the other by the ruling team. The today’s meeting discussed the both drafts proposed by Georgian Dream and opposition, which are largely similar, but contain some differences.

Two commissions were set up to organize nationwide public discussions on the drafts developed by the ruling party and opposition. However, the commissions consist of the same 13 members and discussions on the both drafts are being held simultaneously.

Public discussions will be held in 10 more cities across Georgia and end on September 30. Following public discussions, the drafts will be discussed at the Parliament.

The change would require an amendment to the transitional provision of the Constitution, which needs support of at least two thirds of sitting MPs (113 votes) in three hearings. Since GDDG has lost its constitutional majority several months ago and currently has 106 MPs, it will need the opposition’s support to pass the change.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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