TBILISI, DFWatch–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition Thursday accepted a demand from President Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Movement party, which let it pass a set of constitutional amendments which reduces the rights of the president.
After the crucial vote, the president keeps the right to dissolve the government and parliament, but now, the old government will carry on in a caretaker role until after another election can be held. The president will no longer have the right to handpick a caretaker government, as he has had until now.
When it comes to the time limitations on when the president can dismiss parliament and government, this was kept unchanged. He is barred from doing this six months after or before a parliamentary or presidential election. This leaves a ten day window of time in April for him to use this right, as the next presidential election is to be held in October of 2013, and there was a parliamentary election in October, 2012.
The constitutional amendments were finally put to a vote on Thursday, but the party of President Saakashvili demanded to hold a test vote first to find out how many votes were needed to pass the amendments, which takes 100 out of 150.
The speaker of parliament first said it was necessary to conduct a test vote, as it was obvious that the Georgian Dream coalition lacked the necessary number of votes, but coalition members hoped that the UNM would still support their proposal.
Discussion lasted all Thursday, when finally the speaker of parliament decided to accept the UNM’s demand and conduct a test vote. This proved that Saakshvili’s bloc can really have an impact on processes in parliament and that UNM members act together. The speaker of parliament explained that the reason for the decision is that it is in the country’s interest not to give the president the right to create a political crisis.
The amendments were passed unanimously by 135 votes against 0. President Saakashvili called Thursday’s events a victory for his party, and said Ivanishvili’s coalition wanted to sideline him from politics but failed.
“A new National Movement was born today, which fought until the end and confirmed that it is still alive, more than ever,” he said, adding that they will continue fighting.
A final confirmation of the constitution amendments is planned for Monday.
US Embassy to Georgia same evening responded to the parliament events to congratulate both political blocs on reaching an agreement on a formula that enabled parliament to pass the first reading of the bill on constitutional reforms that will enhance political harmony in Georgia.
“This important step displayed statesmanship on all sides and paves the way for consolidation of Georgian democracy,” statement reads.