Georgia’s Central Election commission Friday approved the protocol of the October 1, 2012, parliamentary election. The first session of the new parliament will be held on Sunday.
Recently, the constitution was changed, so parliament sessions can only be held in Kutaisi in western Georgia. Tomorrow’s session will therefore be the first time the assembly gathers in that city, as ever since independence two decades ago, parliament has been located in Tbilisi, the capital. A large section of politicians were against relocating parliament. They argued that locating the legislature 250 km away from the executive branch, in another city, will create problems and extra expenses for the government.
A new parliament building has been constructed in Kutaisi during the last year, but work is not yet finished, which is posing another series of problems.
Mikheil Saakashvili argued that he wanted to develop the region around Kutaisi, but many people believe that the president did it because of the very low support he and his party has had in the capital in recent years. In the previous election they achieved their worst results ever in Tbilisi.
The election winner, Georgian Dream, which will now form a government, says that the population will decide on the location of the parliament, and now it seems that this will be the first issue put before the new parliament.
But in any event, the first session of the new parliament will be held in the Kutaisi parliament building.
According to the final results from the Central Election Commission, 2 215 661 people voted; 62 874 votes were ruled invalid. Georgian Dream received 54.97 percent of votes; National Movement received 40.34 percent of votes.
There are 150 members of parliament (MPs) in parliament. Georgian Dream will have 85 MPs – 44 proportional, 41 – majoritarian. National Movement will have 65 MPs – 33 proportional, 32 – majoritarian.
The National Movement of President Saakashvili therefore will control more than one third of seats; enough to block constitutional changes. In the previous two periods, the National Movement has held more than two thirds of seats, and has repeatedly changed the constitution.
The president should open the first session of the newly elected parliament. Afterwards, the president will give the word to oldest MP, which will chair parliament until a Speaker of Parliament is elected.
Gogi Ochiauri, 85, is the oldest MP in the new parliament, representing the National Movement party.
The chair of the Central Election Commission will attend the first session, to which also Georgia’s patriarch might be invited, as well as clerics of the country’s other religious confessions, and the chairs of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court.
After recognizing the authority of new parliament, MPs will take an oath. The CEC chair reads them the text of the oath. After the oath, the national anthem is played; then a parliament speaker is elected which, it is already known, will be Davit Usupashvili, Georgian Dream coalition representative and leader of the Republican Party.
There are nine posts of vice speakers in the parliament, but all of them won’t be approved on Sunday. Parliament will elect first deputy. Parliament Speaker has right to present him and it is already known that this will be Manana Kobakhidze, who represents Georgian Dream.
The majority has a right to present only three candidates for Deputy Parliament Speaker. Those will be Zurab Abashidze, Zurab Tkemaladze and Zviad Dzidziguri from Georgian Dream.
According to parliament’s regulation, one deputy parliament speaker is elected from the MPs of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and one from majoritarian MPs of Autonomous Republic of Adjara, but Abkhazian territory is occupied by Russia, so the Abkhazian quota is vacant.
Those who aren’t in majority, and factions who aren’t from the majority, can present one candidate for Deputy Parliament Speaker.
The National Movement hasn’t yet decided to set up a minority in parliament and how many factions they will have in parliament.
At the first session, parliament will elect committee members. Three will be fifteen committees in total and MPs will be distributed there according to their desire. One MP can join more than one committee. Chair of committee should be from the majority. One of its deputies should also represent the majority, and one the minority.
The new parliament will start its sessions with deciding on new rules. The old parliament reduced the period for which parliament will be in session and made the rules ssimpler; the number of plenary sessions has been reduced, and work starts one hour later.