Elections '12-'13, News

Amid crisis, Georgia moves to give president more powers

by | Dec 28, 2012

Davit Usupashvili, Speaker of Parliament. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — The governing Georgian Dream coalition suggests bringing forward a planned reform to give the president power to immediately dissolve parliament and announce a new parliamentary election.

The powers are part of a package of constitutional amendments passed in 2010, due to come into force after the presidential election in 2013.

The initiative to speed up the enforcement comes amidst a standoff between the government and the president over a proposed mass amnesty which will release 3 500 prisoners and reduce the sentence of many others. President Saakashvili has vetoed the law, which was passed last week by parliament, but the governing Georgian Dream coalition controls enough seats to override the veto, which takes a 3/5 majority.

Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili on Friday said at a briefing to sum up first two months’ work of parliament that a possible way out could be to bring forward the coming into force of a constitutional amendment passed in 2010, according to which the country will transfer to a parliamentary model after the presidential election in October, 2013. However, this might create a feeling that the new government is trying to strip the president of his powers.

“That’s why we decided not to touch any of the president’s powers except one: that he cannot change the Georgian government unless it is the will of the people, which is reflected in parliament.”

Usupashvili therefore suggested another solution: The coalition will speed up the enforcement of only one part of the amendsments: To give the president the right to dissolve parliament earlier than the six month’s grace period. This will lead to an unscheduled parliamentary election, but it will be conducted by the current Georgian Dream government.

The Speaker today said his coalition is initiating the constitutional amendments, which also will give the president the right to at any time without appeal dissolve the government and ask parliament to confirm a new government. If it fails to do so three times, he will have the right to appoint a new government.

“This means one man is given the right to ignore the will of the whole population and to use as excuse that the constitution grants him such a right,” Usupashvili said.

The constitution prohibits dissolving parliament for the first six months after an election. If the president appoints a new government within this six month period, the new government will hold an unscheduled parliamentary election after the six months grace period.

In light of this new initiative, Georgian Dream has decided to not approve any more changes to increase the powers of the government and reduce those of the president, and will not touch a proposal to make the state protection service subordinate to the government, instead of the president. “We tell the president: Keep what you need to defend for yourself,” he said.

The Speaker today said his coalition is initiating the constitutional amendments, which also will give the president the right to at any time without appeal dissolve the government and ask parliament to confirm a new government. If it fails to do so three times, he will have the right to appoint a new government.


“This means one man is given the right to ignore the will of the whole population and to use as excuse that the constitution grants him such a right,” Usupashvili said.

The constitution prohibits dissolving parliament for the first six months after an election. If the president appoints a new government within this six month period, the new government will hold an unscheduled parliamentary election after the six months grace period.

“The Georgian Dream coalition is fulfilling its main promise: power to the people,” Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said in an interview with Imedi TV Thursday.

Ivanishvili said it will not pose any difficulties for his coalition to keep its majority if parliament is dissolved and a snap election held.

 



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