Parliament Endorses Constitutional Amendments in First Hearing

Georgian Parliament endorsed today with 126 votes in the first hearing the constitutional amendments, agreed in the EU-brokered April 19 deal, without introducing the 3/5 vote for electing the chief prosecutor. 

The amendments, if adopted in the third hearing, will decrease to 2% from 5% the election threshold in the next two parliamentary polls, to be conducted fully proportionally. They will also reduce to four from seven the number of MPs necessary for forming a parliamentary faction.

The Georgian Dream backtracked on its support yesterday from the provision on selecting the Prosecutor General. As per the EU-brokered deal, which the GD quit in July, first two attempted votes for electing the chief prosecutor would have had a 3/5 threshold, while subsequent attempts required a simple majority.

A candidate elected with only 76 votes of total 150 would serve only for a temporary one-year term instead of the regular six. GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze, who previously dubbed the provision as “absurd,” highlighted today that the rule would still allow a ruling party to push through any candidate, and in this case the temporary term would harm the chief prosecutor’s independence.

Most opposition parties chose to endorse the constitutional amendments despite being harshly critical of the provision being dropped. “They [GD] did not leave any other choice to us,” said Badri Japaridze of Lelo, adding “but this does not mean that we are turning our backs on the justice reform.” 

But not all shared the criticism, as Vice Speaker Levan Ioseliani of the Citizens Party dubbed the removed rule “quasi-democratic,” arguing it would have allowed the GD to elect for a temporary term a “subservient” General Prosecutor that took “more severe steps.”

Prior to the Parliament’s plenary session, Democracy Index, a local CSO, raised concerns over what it called the ruling party’s attempt to maintain “complete control” of the chief prosecutor’s election, and urged the GD to support the introduction of a consensus-based rule for the election.

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