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Changing procedure for electing prosecutor, one of 12 points given by EU fulfilled

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Thursday, October 27, 2022
On October 18, in the first reading, the Parliament of Georgia supported the constitutional amendment project regarding the new procedure for electing the Prosecutor General. The adopted changes are noteworthy in that they are one of the 12 recommendations that Georgia must implement in order to obtain the status of a candidate country for the European Union.

The opposition, while supporting this change, still declares that the Georgian Dream will not fulfill the recommendations of the European Union as a whole and only creates an imitation that it is working on the implementation of the recommendations.

According to the legislative project, the Parliament of the next two convocations will elect the Prosecutor General with a majority of 3/5 of the full composition, that is, 90 votes. If the Parliament fails to elect the Prosecutor General twice according to this rule, then the Prosecutor General will be elected by a majority of the full composition, i.e. 76 votes.

In this case, the term of office of the Prosecutor General will be one year instead of six years, as it is envisaged in the case of the election with 90 votes. In addition, during the election of the Prosecutor General at the plenary session of the Parliament, the second and third voting shall be held no earlier than the 28th day after the corresponding previous voting, and the same candidate shall be voted for.

Constitutional changes were initiated by the Georgian Dream deputies. But at the same time, it should be noted that the ruling team criticizes the constitutional initiative initiated by it and considers it a "legal ugliness" and "unmanageable bill". The support is explained by the fact that this is one of the 12 recommendations of the European Union, and the fulfillment of these 12 points is a priority for them.

According to Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of Georgian Dream", if the opposition does not support the method of electing the Prosecutor General by a qualified majority, it will be obvious to everyone that they are against receiving the status of a candidate for the European Union.

The opposition did not give grounds for such an accusation to the ruling party, and the bill was supported by "National Movement", "Lelo", "Girchi", Gakharia's party for "Georgia" and "Strategy Agmashenebeli". In total, 126 parliamentarians supported the bill. The support of 113 parliamentarians was enough to pass the constitutional amendment.

According to the opposition forces who supported the constitutional amendments, the rule proposed by the draft law is better than the existing one, because the election of the General Prosecutor by consensus of the parliamentary parties will give him high legitimacy.

Confidence in the prosecutor elected with the support of one party will be low. According to them, the issue is included in the "Michel Document" and the recommendations of the European Commission. Under current legislation, the prosecutor's office is used as a tool for political prosecution, and the general prosecutor is appointed based on party preferences rather than public trust. However, not all groups in the parliament supported the bill. The bill was not supported by "Citizens", Khatuna Samnidze, and "European Socialists".

Opponents of the draft law stated that this only creates facade changes, because according to the rule, it would not be possible to elect a prosecutor based on a qualified majority on the basis of consensus, and instead we will get a prosecutor elected by a simple majority, again by a nominal political force for one year, who will not be accountable to the parliament and society.

During the discussion of the draft law, the opposition MPs were interested, if along with the change in the procedure for electing the Prosecutor General, why another draft of the constitutional amendments, the issue of reducing the electoral threshold, is not considered.

Reducing the electoral threshold for a large number of opposition parties is very important because the existing 5% threshold simply eliminates the chance for many of them to enter the parliament and contributes to the polarization of the political spectrum. Previously, these two constitutional amendments were considered together, and then the Georgian Dream forgot the issue of lowering the electoral threshold.

According to Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, the electoral changes are not part of the 12 points of the European Union and they have no obligation to accept such changes. According to Kobakhidze, the majority will return to the issue of lowering the threshold in 2023 or even in 2024, even if the polarization on the part of the opposition decreases.

The opposition, along with supporting the constitutional changes regarding the election of the General Prosecutor, still notes that the Georgian Dream will not fulfill the 12-point recommendations of the European Union. According to Badri Japaridze, one of the leaders of "Lelo", the fulfillment of these points implies a change in the governance system in the country, that is, a change in oligarchic governance and distribution of power, while the Georgian Dream is not ready for such a change. Therefore, they resort to a trick, as if they want to fulfill these points, but in reality, they do not intend to solve the "most painful" issues for them. For example, the bill on de-oligarchization prepared by "Georgian Dream" completely excludes Bidzina Ivanishvili from the list of possible oligarchs.