On June 5, Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog, released an analysis of the proposed changes to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia, which, according to the CSO, diminish the rights opposition MPs enjoy under the current legislation.
The watchdog has negatively assessed the draft law, initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream party lawmakers Irakli Kobakhidze, Giorgi Kakhiani, Mamuka Mdinaradze and Guram Macharashvili on May 25, stating that the proposed changes aim to grant additional privileges for the parliamentary majority.
The initiators of the draft bill noted that “certain gaps” have been identified in the current version of Rules of Procedure, that entered into force upon Salome Zurabishvili’s inauguration as the President on December 16, 2018. Georgian Dream lawmakers said the proposed changes aim “to bring the Rules of Procedure in line with the main principles (that still need to be enacted) of the Constitution.”
TI Georgia noted that the proposed changes consider abolition of “parliamentary minority” by instead introducing vague notion of “parliamentary opposition” that will entail lawmakers not representing the majority group.
In the meantime, Parliament Speaker will have three deputies instead of nine, only one of which will come from the parliamentary opposition (instead of current three).
Moreover, no less than seven MPs (instead of current six) will create a faction, while members of the single political party will not have the right to create more than one faction, and MPs from different parties/election blocs will not have the right to set up a joint faction.
Opposition/independent MPs will have reduced time to engage in the parliamentary debates as well. Although factions will have time according to the number of their members (no less than ten minutes and no more than 75 minutes), instead of 45 minutes considered by the current Rules of Procedure (for majority and minority), independent MPs will have three minutes instead of current five.
“It is impossible to develop democratic governance in a parliamentary republic by strengthening the rights of the [parliamentary] majority alone,” stressed TI Georgia. “Opposition’s engagement in important processes is significant to ensure strengthening the role of the parliament,” the watchdog added.