Civil Society Discusses the Constitutional Reform Process

29 Sep, 2010

On September 22 the representatives from NGOs, state and public constitutional commissions, government and political parties, as well as experts, gathered in Marriott Courtyard to discuss the Constitutional Amendments.

The round table was organized by the “Open Society – Georgia” foundation and had two main goals: 1) Provide the civil society with the opportunity to access the ongoing Constitutional reform process; 2) Collect the basic remarks and conclusion made by the non-governmental sector or law experts regarding the constitutional amendments and submit them to the parliament.

During the meeting the government representatives were asked not to rush and postpone the parliamentary discussions of the constitutional amendments for several months. According to the expressed arguments, the discussions held in August lacked publicity and the new draft requires more debates, especially via television broadcasts and similar TV debates did not take place in summer.

Tamar Khidasheli, Head of the Georgian Young Lawyer’s association, who at the same time was the member of the State Constitutional Commission, thinks that the draft was prepared in a rush. She stated that the Constitutional commission was established on June 23, 2009 but the real preparation of the draft happened during the recent period. “The draft was prepared recently. The working groups have been established within the Constitutional Commission, but whenever we gathered for broad sessions we heard the arguments that the government had no final opinion on this or that issue and we had to postpone the discussion of those issues every time. The first draft was published on May 12, 2010, during the “hot” period of elections and therefore neither our association nor any other political forces had the opportunity to participate in the discussion process” – mentioned Tamar Khidasheli.

As Pavle Kublashvili, Chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Legal Affairs stated, all political parties had the chance to participate in the preparation of draft during one year period. At the meeting he stressed that the first reading of Constitutional Amendments was planned on September 24 during the special session of the Parliament.

According to experts’ view, the adoption of constitutional amendments in the current format would legitimate the civil confrontation since it bears the risk of confrontation between the President and the government. The experts stated that the declaration of confidence or non-confidence must have the equal number of MPs’ votes.

In the submitted draft, in case the vote of confidence is made to the government, the majority of votes is required whereas in case on non-confidence – 3/5 of votes; according to the draft, the constructive vote of no-confidence envisages that in case of no-confidence declared to the existing government, the adoption of the new composition of the government is applied at once.

During the meeting it was also mentioned that the role of the parliament must grow in the revised constitution; the Prime-Minister’s power should be limited when signing the draft laws that can become the reason for vote of non-confidence to the Parliament and the Parliament might be dissolved as a result.

Pavle Kublashvili said that no changes will be made regarding procedures of non-confidence vote and adoption of the decision by 3/5th of votes. The Venice Commission as well as Georgian experts and opposition parties requested the amendment of this provision.

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Other events organized by the Foundation on the topic of the constitution:

The conference on the theme “The constitutional process in Georgia and its prospects”

A New Analytical Publication will Initiate Debates about Constitution