Majority invites NGOs for discussions over constitution before final reading
By Messenger Staff
Thursday, September 7The Georgian Dream majority has invited NGOs to participate in the discussions over the draft constitution before the final reading of the draft in Parliament this month.
"The constitutional reform passed all the stages established by legislation and democratic principles. The NGO sector, opposition parties and civil society were involved in the State Constitutional Commission,” majority leader MP Archil Talakvadze said.
“There were public discussions. There were several rounds of consultations with the Venice Commission, as well as political discussions and debates in Parliament. The constitutional amendments will be discussed during the third hearing at the autumn session. The next discussion and debates will be held within the autumn session," Talakvadze added.
The head of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, says that the draft has already been passed with its two key readings and the remaining one is "only of a technical nature".
She says inviting NGOs at this stage of the discussions is “absolutely useless”.
“Through inviting the NGOs, the ruling party wants to mislead the people,” Gigauri said.
The NGOs have urged the authorities to wait for the Venice Commission's, under the Council of Europe, report before approving the constitutional amendments.
When the Georgian Dream established the 73-member Constitutional Commission at the end of the last year, to agree on the changes that should be brought in the constitution, the NGOs were also involved in the Commission activities.
However, at the final stage of drafting the changes, most of the NGOs quit the commission and stated that the ruling party was trying to push for several changes that would only fit their own interests.
The initial draft of the constitution sent to the Venice Commission reads that Georgia will move to fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024; the latter date is currently written in the revised draft through the initiative of the ruling party.
The key demands of the opposition and NGOs to the draft included a full move to fully proportional elections from 2020, the direct election of the president and fair sharing of undistributed votes (the votes received by parties failing to overcome thresholds in the elections) between the parliamentary parties.
In its initial statements, the ruling party claimed they would take all the remarks of the Venice Commission over the draft into account.
The Venice Commission announced they would provide final recommendations over the revised draft in a month’s time.
Even if the Venice Commission recommends moving to a fully proportional system from 2020 it is unlikely the ruling party will accept this.
In response, they are very likely to say that the new constitution reads moving to a fully proportional system from 2024 which is due to the “merit” of the current state leadership.
It was initially very obvious that the majority would ignore the opposition’s and NGO’s key demands, as retaining the majoritarian elections for the next race is a chance for them to easily occupy more seats in the legislative body than they would have managed under fully proportional elections.