At the forefront of current political developments are two possible impeachment proceedings: one against the President and the other against the Prime Minister. These developments have raised the political temperature and further deepened polarization in the country.
The Constitutional Framework: According to Article 48 of the Constitution of Georgia, not less than one-third (50 MPs) of the full membership of the Parliament has the right to raise the issue of impeachment of the President of Georgia and a member of the Government, based on the grounds of violation of the Constitution or the presence of signs of a crime in their conduct. The matter shall be referred to the Constitutional Court, which shall consider it and submit its conclusions to the Parliament within one month. The threshold for impeaching the Prime Minister is lower, requiring the support of 76 MPs, as opposed to the 100 MPs needed for impeaching the President.
Impeachment of the President: At a briefing on September 1, the chair of Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, announced that the party’s political council had decided to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of Georgia. The impeachment proceedings are based on allegations of constitutional violations. Georgian Dream MPs argue that the President has exceeded her constitutional authority by making foreign visits without government approval, which they claim violates Article 52 of the Constitution which stipulates: “The President exercises representative powers in foreign relations, conducts negotiations with other states and international organizations, makes international agreements … with the approval of the Government“. “Georgian Dream” has already submitted a constitutional petition to the Constitutional Court to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, signed by 80 MPs of the parliamentary majority. The registration process in the Constitutional Court will now begin, as stated in the Constitution.
Impeachment of the Prime Minister: On September 10, the opposition announced starting the impeachment proceedings against the PM after the director of Georgian Airways, Tamaz Gaiashvili, confirmed in an interview with “TV Pirveli” that Garibashvili used a government plane for personal travel to Europe while en route to the United States. The opposition argues that this is an abuse of power and a criminal offence.
Constitutional expert Vakhushti Menabde outlines in Georgia’s impeachment procedure for high-ranking officials like the Prime Minister:
- The opposition in the impeachment process must submit a document justifying its position, presenting arguments and evidence, but its standard of proof is lower than that of a prosecutor due to MPs limited investigative capabilities;
- The Constitutional Court’s primary role is to identify signs of a criminal offense in the Prime Minister’s actions, rather than to determine whether he has committed a crime;
- If the Constitutional Court gives a positive evaluation, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is guilty of a crime. In the future, during a formal criminal trial, that person could still be declared not guilty, even after the Constitutional Court’s assessment.
- 04/09/2023 – NGOs: Attempt to Impeach the President is an Attack on Georgia’s EU Membership Aspirations
- 01/09/2023 – EU Partners React to Announcement of Impeachment Proceedings against President