TBILISI, DFWatch–The constitutional amendments to limit the president’s power to dismiss parliament may fail to be passed.
The reason is that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvivi’s Georgian Dream coalition lacks the votes to pass the amendments, while Saakashvili’s party plans to boycott the vote.
As reported by DF Watch, the current constitution will allow President Mikheil Saakashvili to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament during a brief window of time from April 20 to May 1, 2013. He may then personally pick a caretaker government of his own choosing which will run the country until a snap parliamentary election has been held and the new assembly has approved a new government.
Georgian Dream fears that Saakashvili will do this, because of the difficult power-sharing situation there currently is with the two political blocs, with the National Movement holding the office of president, which still has extensive powers, while Georgian Dream controls parliament and government.
With the proposed new constitution, the president will still be able to dismiss parliament, but in that case the government will continue as a caretaker government until after the election. The difference therefore is whether Saakashvili will be able to pick his own people to run the country for an interim period if he decides to have a snap election, and if so, what the outcome of a general election would be under such conditions, considering how previous Saakashvili governments have been able to manipulate election processes.
This is the issue at the root of what parliament is starting to discuss today. Complicating things, Georgian Dream does not control a large enough majority to pass the amendments on its own, and not even with the help of a handful of independents; it must have support from at least some of the representatives of Saakashvili’s National Movement party.
On Tuesday, the UNM said it would offer its support on the condition that there first is held a so-called test vote to find out how many votes Ivanishvili’s bloc will need. Then they will offer that exact number of votes in order to get the amendments passed.
The law offers such an option, if it is necessary in order to find out how many votes a draft may potentially receive in the vote, because if the amendments fail to be passed, it will take several months to bring the issue up in parliament again.
Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili from Georgian Dream responded to this demand that there is no point in conducting a test vote, because the ruling Georgian Dream coalition really lacks the votes to adopt the amendments without some votes from Saakashvili’s party. They hope that the representatives from the UNM will support the amendments.
However Saakashvili’s party members decided not to give opportunity to its members to make an individual decision during this vote. They say that they won’t participate in the vote if a test vote is not conducted first.
If their demand to conduct a test vote is accepted, then only leaders of the UNM will participate in the vote, not giving opportunity to ordinary MPs from the UNM to vote for the constitutional amendments. MPs from the UNM confirmed this information to DF Watch, and say it was a team decision.