The 9th convocation of the Georgian Parliament held its last plenary session on September 30. Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze thanked the lawmakers and the staff for their four-year work and wished success to all parties running in the October 31 parliamentary elections.
The Parliament of 9th Convocation started to work in November 2016, following the 2016 parliamentary elections, and elected Irakli Kobakhidze as the chairman. The latter quit on June 21, 2019 after Sergei Gavrilov, Russian Orthodox Communist MP, addressed a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in plenary chamber of the Georgian Parliament. The State Duma Deputy addressing a session in Russian from Parliament Speaker’s chair triggered protests outside the Parliament building later that day, which the police disperse using force. According to official data, 240 citizens, including about 40 journalists sustained injuries during the dispersal. Kobakhidze was replaced by Archil Talakvadze as Parliament Speaker.
The Georgian Dream’s decision to vote down the amendments on the transition to fully proportional electoral system despite its pledge to June protests triggered another wave of protests in November 2019 outside the Parliament. Lawmakers of the opposition National Movement and European Georgia parties boycotted the parliamentary sessions.
In late November, the opposition and Georgian Dream launched consultations on electoral reform with the facilitation of foreign ambassadors that resulted in the March 8, 2020 agreement on electoral reform, which was then passed in late June, switching the composition of the next Parliament to 120 MPs elected through proportional-party and 30 lawmakers elected as majoritarians (from existing 77/73 ratio).
The 9th conviction of the Parliament made a number of landmark decisions, including the relocation of the Parliament from Kutaisi, Georgia’s second-largest city, back to Tbilisi in January 2019; adoption of the new Constitution and the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure; election of 14 new judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia amid strong criticism voiced by opposition and CSOs; termination of UNM MP Nika Melia’s mandate in December 2019; definition of marriage in the Constitution; development of the Code on the Rights of the Child; amendments to the electoral and labor codes; adoption of pension reform; approval of the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili list, etc.
Due to the differences within the ruling team over the draft law on common courts, the Georgian Dream lost the constitutional majority in early 2019. In January 2017, the United National Movement, second largest political party was split off, with a number of leaders leaving the party to establish a new political party European Georgia.
The ruling party and opposition politicians have assessed the four-year work of the Parliament of 9th Convocation.
MP Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgian Dream’s executive secretary, mainly focused on constitutional reform, saying that “it created the foundation for our country’s long-term democratic development.”
“For the first time, Georgia has the constitution, which fully meets highest, democratic, European standards. Moreover, a lot of reforms have been implemented. The Parliament’s activities can be assessed as successful,” he added.
The parliamentary opposition, which is boycotting the sessions, gave a negative assessment to the Parliament’s activities.
“How can one assess the work of this Parliament; I can bring two examples – Lari exchange rate and Gavrilov [Russian MP]. So, it is a team of obedient people, aggressive, obedient constitutional majority,” UNM lawmaker, Roman Gotsiridze slammed GD-majority legislative.
“We broke Georgian Dream on March 8, when we managed to adopt a new [amendment in] the constitution, envisaging to decrease the number of 73 majoritarians [to 30],” MP Sergo Ratiani of European Georgia said.
“This Parliament had to undergo a grave crisis – it was the judicial reform, which actually split Georgian Dream… Ultimately, this Parliament ends like one-party Parliament looks,” noted Georgian Dream turned independent lawmaker Eka Beselia.