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What will change Constitutional change?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 13
Parliament is working on the issue of introducing amendments to the Constitution. Both the majority and opposition agree on the necessity of this step.

The majority supports three initiatives: providing guarantees for private property protection, diminishing the power of the President to dissolve Parliament and giving a newly-elected Parliament the power to confirm a new Government. The Christian–Democratic opposition is promoting a single issue: It wants the President to be obliged to appear before Parliament twice a year and participate in debate about his report after he has submitted it. Most probably such a clause will not be introduced to the Constitution as majority representatives are against it, bringing as argument the practice in other countries, where the President is not obliged to report to Parliament several times a year. Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Legal Issues Chiora Taktakishvili states that there are no precedents internationally for this.

However if there is an emergency in the country the President is already obliged to appear before Parliament as often as Parliament deems necessary. It’s better if he is ready for political dialogue and can listen to his political opponents: even President Shevardnadze did that. As for Saakashvili he used a rude word about the opposition when he was airing ideas different from the opposition’s during his first appearance before Parliament some years ago. Since then the opposition has demanded in vain that the President listens to the criticism and responds to it in open debate.

The Georgian Constitution itself has been amended multiple times, particularly since the Rose Revolution. The opposition organization the Georgian Academy has calculated that over the last ten years the Georgian Constitution has been amended 18 times. 13 of these amendments have introduced in Parliament since the Rose Revolution, the most intensive changes being introduced in the Article “President of Georgia.” Why is the Constitution amended so often? Has it become more democratic? Representative of the majority assure the public that these amendments were needed to make the constitution more democratic, but the opposition thinks otherwise.

Constitutional amendments made right after the Rose Revolution increased the President’s rights and diminished Parliament’s role, thus violating the balance between the different branches of power. This was several times criticized by international organizations and experts. The opposition in particular is very critical, considering the current Constitution is a charter for authoritarianism. The Venice Commission made multiple remarks about it, but out of 30 critical remarks 23 were rejected by the administration.

The newer individual amendments have been continually criticized by opposition forces. Some time ago the Republicans published a document in which they tried to prove that the current Presidential initiative to amend the Constitution is once again just an attempt to slightly change the facade and is primarily a PR stunt. Hot debates on the various proposed amendments are therefore expected. However the ruling party is able to adopt any kind of initiative it wishes, and debate is likely to achieve little.