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Georgian Constitution Before and Now

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Monday, August 27
On 24 August Georgia marks the day of the constitution. On this day, in 1995, Georgia adopted the new Constitution on the grounds of the 1921 constitution, which predominantly defined issues of principal importance for the democratic development of Georgia. The Constitution which was adopted 23 years ago, has changed four times:

- 2004 - After the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Parliament of Georgia passed a new edition of the constitution, which equipped the president with more power, and president dominated all other branches of power and institutions. It was a super-presidential model;
- 2010 - According to the new edition of the constitution, the Institute of prime-minister became the most powerful political position. A president has been deprived of all the executive rights;
- 2013. The new government of Georgia restricted the rights of prime minister. This model is closer to the parliamentary model;
- 2017. The parliament adopted a new edition of the constitution that determined the country's parliamentary model;

On August 24, together with the celebration of the Constitution Day, the presentation of the last edition of the Constitution was held in the parliament. At the special event, the Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze addressed the guests with a speech:“Before the endorsement of the new edition of the Constitution, public disclosure meetings were often filled with radically different positions, which evidences that society feels a greater responsibility towards issues of sovereign importance. It is gratifying that a compromise has been found irrespective of different opinions and we have reached an agreement on key principles as everyone is united around one goal - to build a united, democratic and strong Georgian state" concluded the Prime Minister of Georgia.

According to the Head of the Government of Georgia, the country now has a Constitution that ensures stability and pluralism in the conditions of a high level of democracy on the one hand and excludes excessive concentration of power and risk of autocracy on the other.

The first issue of the new edition of the Constitution of Georgia was presented at Shota Rustaveli Hall of the Parliament of Georgia. The event was attended by Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Patriarch of All Georgians Ilya II, members of the government of Georgia, Mayor of Tbilisi, officials of the legislative and executive authorities of Georgia, judges of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, Secretary of the Supreme Council of Justice, Chief Prosecutor and representatives of NGOs. It is noteworthy that the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili didn’t attend the event organized by the government, and he held an alternative event in the Presidential Palace.

Thus, Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed his negative attitude toward the new edition of the constitution. He told guests gathered in the Presidential Palace that in the process of changing the constitution, only one party's interests were taken into consideration:

"Today we are celebrating the Day of Constitution, and we are facing the challenges and defining a vision for the future too, but unfortunately, we weren't able to create a non-single-party constitutional document. There are issues, on which everyone should agree. These issues are our independence and freedom, territorial integrity, and our democracy, we should not be arguing about these issues," Margvelashvili said.

According to the new edition of the constitution, the role of the president is reduced, and this part of the document was one of the most controversial. According to the new edition, from 2023 president won't be elected by the population, but the electoral board, which will be completed by MP-s and representatives of the Government. This will increase the role and influence of parliament, but on the other hand, the president acquires only the ceremonial function, and the real political power will only be distributed between the parliament and the government.

One of the central values of democracy is the principle of power distribution between the governmental branches; therefore, reasonable would be to allow people to choose its president, thus giving this institution additional legitimacy and therefore, political power.