TBILISI, DFWatch – At a time when Vano Merbaishvili was not yet confirmed as Prime Minister, a bill was brought to parliament to increase the authority of the prime minister. Parliament passed it at the first hearing.

According to the bill, which was proposed by the government, changes are to be made to Georgian law about the government’s structure, authority and rules of procedure.

The amendments will make the prime minister chair of the government instead of head of government. Also, the rules for how the government makes decisions will be defined by a government regulation, instead of by law. The prime minister will be given the right to transfer the right to delegate of authorities defined by the new regulations.

Gia Khuroshvili, the government’s parliamentary secretary, says that the government needs mechanisms which accomodate for making decisions in a fast and flexible way.

“Our people expect fast actions from the government. These changes are related to technical but content issues. As a result, fast and flexible mechanisms will be formed for the government’s functioning,” he says.

Levan Vepkhvadze, representing the parliamentary opposition from the Christian Democrats, sees this in connection with ‘the Merabishvili factor’.

“As it seems, he considered that he cannot wait this one year for the authority of the prime minister to be increased, and step by step increases those powers. This means that this person already prepares to become first person and doesn’t wait for 2013, when the prime minister’s authority will increase. It should be noted that Saakashvili hasn’t been seen for the last three days.”

Vakhtang Khmaladze, constitutional analyst, shares his position. He says that it seems Merabishvili asked to increase his powers before being appointed to this position.

Appointing Vano Merabishvili, who used to be chair of the most authoritarian law enforcement body, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, saw being prime minister as an impairment and a loss of influence. According to the current law, the prime minister is considered as a chair of only the economy team and law enforcement ministers do not obey him. In addition, officials are resigning and fired from the Interior Ministry right now; exactly people who were considered the personal staff of Merabishvili.

Analysts see these new amendments as an attempt to strengthen the office of prime minister at some point. But they think that it strengthens in the direction of authoritanism.

Vakhtang Khmaladze explains that when the government makes a decision by following rules defined by law, it gives a guarantee that those decisions are not made arbitrarily. But when a prime minister has the right to issue regulations and decide how decisions should be made, in this case it is possible that this rule won’t provide for the government’s collegial work. Therefore it is possible that this is an incorrect measure in violation of law.

Pavle Kublashvili, head of parliament’s judiciary committee, tells DF Watch that what the analysts are saying is unclear to him, because the authority of the prime minister cannot go beyond the limits of the constitution.

“Accordingly, the prime minister’s authority remains the same as it used to be, and certain regulations will be reviewed to have more optimized conditions for holding government sessions, to make appropriate decisions and naturally, it is important for the government’s effective activity.”