Kobakhidze Says GD ‘Not Obliged’ to Make Constitutional Amendments

Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze suggested today that keeping the threshold for parliamentary elections at 5% “could be better for democratic development,” discussing the constitutional changes that cleared the first hearing on September 7, and would lower the barrier to 2%.

MP Kobakhidze maintained that the Georgian Dream will continue discussions about lowering the threshold, albeit noting that “even if nothing is changed in the constitution, it will not harm [Georgia’s] democratic development.”

The ruling party chairperson said the ruling party “has no obligation” to adopt any constitutional amendments. The proposed changes were part of the EU-brokered April 19 Agreement between the GD and opposition, which the Georgian Dream quit in July.

In July, GD lawmakers pledged to remain committed to reforms envisaged in April 19 deal, despite leaving the agreement. Despite stated committment, the ruling party lawmakers backtracked in September on another proposed constitutional change – introducing the 3/5 vote for electing the chief prosecutor, a move that sparked strong EU and U.S. criticism. Georgian Dream MP Shalva Papuashvili later suggested lowering the election barrier down to 3% instead of 2%.

The statement came after jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili called on the opposition on November 1, in the aftermath of “rigged” local election runoffs, to quit the Parliament and launch street protests.

Commenting on the opposition MPs possibly leaving the Parliament, MP Kobakhidze pointed out that the amendments cannot be adopted without a constitutional majority of 113 MPs. GD currently has 84 lawmakers.

In a subsequent address from jail on November 2, Saakashvili clarified that opposition should keep their parliamentary seats in order to pass the Constitutional Amendments, and “hand in the mandates after resolving tactical issues.”

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