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Constitutional Commission agrees a model

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, May 12
The State Constitutional Commission took its final decision about the models it has developed, and which have been presented to it, at a special session on May 11.

The model presented by Avtandil Demetrashvili and Tengiz Sharmanashvili, Chairs of the Constitutional Commission, received the majority of votes from the 41 members of the Commission. This model increases Parliament’s role and gives it the power to make important state decisions. The President is detached from the executive, which will be appointed by Parliament, and the President will not therefore be able to change any member of the Government. Important changes to the court system and local government institutions have also been incorporated.

The model will be presented to local and international organisations working in this field. Malkhaz Matsaberidze, member of the Commission, explained the process to The Messenger. “The Constitutional Commission discussed and voted on three models presented to it and the one presented by Avtandil Demetrashvili and Tengiz Sharmanashvili received 31 out of 41 votes and will be sent to the Venice Commission for their further recommendations. The other two models implied continued Presidential governance, and we will take some elements of these and discuss them further, but as we wish to establish a European system of governance, the members of the Commission supported the Secretariat’s initiative,” Matsaberidze said.

Avtandil Demetrashivi said that the fact his project received 31 votes is an important victory although the rest of the Commission members opposed or hesitated about certain aspects of his model and suggested it still needs some improvement. “There are still long procedures to be followed. We will present this model to local and international actors and listen to their remarks and after the final Commission meeting Parliament will introduce it to the President,” Demetrashvili told The Messenger, expressing the hope that no fundamental changes will be made to the text.

Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), told the media before the session, that the CDM’s views match those of the Secretariat and its representatives would therefore vote for the Demetrashvili-Sharmanashvili model. “The mechanisms of the political system are broken in our country and this has caused a disbalance of powers. The aim of the State Constitutional Commission has been to restore this balance, preventing the increase of Presidential powers in our country,” Targamadze told the media.

Freedom Institude member Levan Ramishvili's proposal of a federal system in Georgia was a series of concepts rather than an actual Constitutional model and received 5 votes. His proposal outlined his general approach and highlighted the need for economic reforms in order to prevent a crisis. “When a state wants to make some liberal economic reform which is opposed by certain social groups, a proper constitutional reform should guarantee that nothing will deter economic liberalisation,” explained Ramishvili. “The Constitution doesn’t aim to create paradise but prevent hell,” said Ramishvili, whose proposed an American model of the separation of powers.

Doctor of Law Vasil Gonashvili, author of the third constitutional model presented, proposed that the office of Vice-President should be introduced and the Prime Ministership abolished. This was not supported at all by members of the Commission.

The State Constitutional Commission has still to discuss six other projects and more than 20 written suggestions. Although the basic model has now been agreed some of these changes might still be incorpaorated in the final draft. A decision on this should be made by the end of the month.