TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party has agreed to support a set of the constitutional amendments which will limit the powers of the president, but only if Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition lacks the required votes.
The Georgian Dream coalition claims it will not need the votes of Saakashvili’s party and that it no longer matters what their opponents will decide to do.
The coalition prepared the constitution amendments in December, 2012 to set new limits on how the president can change the government. According to the current version of the constitution, the president has the right to dissolve government and parliament. In addition, until a new election is conducted and until a new parliament is confirmed, the country will be governed by a government appointed personally by the president.
According to the proposed amendments, the president will retain the right to dissolve government and parliament, but if he does so, the previous government will continue as caretaker government until a new parliament is in place. The argument for doing this is that the president shouldn’t make individual decisions. That is a prerogative of a parliament elected by the population of the country. This initiative has the support of a majority of lawyers and non-governmental organizations.
The current law prohibits the president from dissolving parliament six months before or after a parliamentary or presidential election. With the new initiative, this regulation will be abolished, but non-governmental organizations criticized the initiative and the restriction will remain the same.
In October, 2012 there was held parliamentary election, and a presidential election will be held in October, 2013. Therefore, President Saakashvili will have the right to dissolve the government and parliament from April 20 to May 1.
Considering that the power-sharing is not working out well between the Georgian Dream coalition and the president’s party, there is possibility that Saakashvili may use this regulation and create a political crisis in the country; because he may dissolve the parliament where there is majority of Georgian Dream coalition and a government staffed by the same coalition, and if he appoints a new government, it won’t express the choice of a majority of the population, which elected the Georgian Dream coalition in October. The new initiative was prepared in order to avoid such a crisis.
To pass constitution amendments takes at least 100 votes. The coalition currently has 94 potential votes, but they claim that members of Saakashvili’s party also agree with this initiative and that it looks sure to be passed.
Despite this, Georgian Dream attempted to negotiate with the UNM to achieve a general agreement about changes. The coalition agreed to all of the UNM’s conditions, but still the negotiations failed. Afterwards, it was decided to adopt constitutional changes by the end of March. Initiative reviews will start on Thursday.
Members of UNM stated that they will officially express their position on Monday, but it was postponed. Tuesday evening, Saakashvili arrived in Kutaisi om westerm Geprgoa where parliament lies to hold a closed meeting with his party. Members of his party said in TV interviews after the meeting that they are ready to support the changes, but on one condition.
Davit Bakradze, one of the party leaders, said that they will request to conduct a so-called rating ballot, which will make it clear how many votes the coalition will get for its proposal and how many votes they need for a quorum.
“We will give the precise number of votes which they will need,” he said.
Giorgi Tsagareishvili from the Georgian Dream coalition told DF Watch that this condition is unacceptable.
“They understood that we would be able to adopt those changes without them and now they want to use this situation. No rating ballot will be held. There will be one ballot and if they want they may support it or not.”