With 117 votes in favor and 3 against, the Georgian Parliament endorsed constitutional amendments in a third and final round of voting earlier today, clearing the way for reforming the electoral system in the run-up to the parliamentary polls due in October.
MPs from the United National Movement and European Georgia parties did not participate in the voting, citing Georgian Dream’s failure to release “political prisoner” Giorgi Rurua and fully implement the March 8 Agreement as the reason behind their decision.
Civil.ge offers a compilation of assessments regarding the adoption of constitutional amendments.
Ruling party’s reactions
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia: “To me, personally, these constitutional amendments, which bring us closer to a more proportional and, ultimately, a proportional electoral system, imply several significant achievements. First – this is an irreversible process that the political elite of independent Georgia has dreamt of since the 1990s. No one was able to do this, and the Georgian Dream achieved this, despite the difficulties involved – the government team was able to achieve full mobilization and to do what it had to do, first and foremost, for our citizens and the further democratization of this country, the irreversibility of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. What is most important here is that Georgia’s further democratization and Euro-Atlantic integration are irreversible, and this is what we have voted for. As regards those who did not vote for these legislative amendments due to certain selfish, narrow political interests and are justifying this by citing absolutely vague, moreover, criminal cases – this just simply will not work with regard to our citizens… Following these constitutional amendments, our primary task is to ensure that elections in Georgia are democratic, fully transparent while meeting high Western standards of elections.”
Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze: “The decision made today is a continuation of the democratic reforms by which we have once again proved to the society and our partners that we are ready to enhance the democracy and ensure yet another free, democratic and transparent parliamentary election in October 2020. I think that today’s voting was a watershed; it was a line with European Georgia and National Movement staying on the one side and a responsible, government force – Georgian Dream, as well as new opposition that kept its promise and supported the constitutional amendments – on the other.
Georgian Dream’s Executive Secretary, Irakli Kobakhidze: “This day is a victory of our state and yet another step on the path of Georgia’s democratic development. This day also is the victory of the ambassadors facilitating the March 8 agreement, as well as the victory of the Georgian Dream. This day has only one loser – it is radical, destructive, criminal opposition, which grossly violated the March 8 agreement and refused to fulfill the ambassadors’ recommendations, thus proving that it is an anti-state, anti-democratic and anti-Western political force.”
Roman Gotsiridze, the United National Movement: “Bidzina Ivanishvili could not withstand internal and external pressure – there was a huge pressure, including a huge threat of losing his personal financial resources and assets. International partners had once warned him that unless the agreement was fulfilled, sanctions would be imposed on him. Therefore, one important part of the agreement has been fulfilled and we welcome this fact… we did not participate [in the voting], we had a principled position and remained committed to our principles.”
Irakli Abesadze, European Georgia: “Georgian Dream was forced to adopt these constitutional amendments… During the first hearing, when we participated and the amendments were not voted down, they had no other chance but to lustrate themselves. But the March 8 agreement should be fulfilled fully if we want to talk about the normal political process and defusing of the critical situation which Georgian Dream created and for which it is fully responsible.”
Tamar Chugoshvili, independent MP: “The government had to acknowledge that what happened in November was a huge mistake… The international community’s reaction was decisive… These amendments are necessary to ensure normal, balanced, and healthy political processes in the country.”
Eka Beselia, independent MP: “We should not have only two choices – Georgian Dream and National Movement. We need a new choice, even small groups, new alternatives that will help the Parliament out of this aggressive, bipolar formula and move to a new stage of coalition governance.”