PM Rules Out Trade-Off on Constitutional Changes with UNM
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Feb.'13 / 18:38

PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Tuesday that his Georgian Dream (GD) coalition will not engage in political horse trading with President Saakashvili’s UNM party over constitutional amendments.

UNM says it will only support GD-initiated constitutional amendments on presidential powers if the parliamentary majority in return supports UNM’s proposal on making country’s pro-Western foreign policy course constitutionally guaranteed. In addition UNM also wants to increase bar for passing any future constitutional amendment from current two-third to three-fourth of majority votes in exchange for its support to GD’s constitutional amendment.

In December GD parliamentary majority offered a constitutional amendment under which President Saakashvili retains all of his current powers, except of the one which allows him to appoint new government even if the Parliament refuses to confirm President-nominated cabinet.

Although Georgian Dream (GD) coalition has enough votes in the Parliament to override a presidential veto – 89 (total of 91 MPs voted in December in favor of overturning presidential veto on amnesty bill), it still falls short of two-third majority – 100, required for passing constitutional amendments.

Speaking at a news conference on February 5, PM Ivanishvili rejected UNM’s conditions for supporting GD-initiated constitutional amendments as “absurd”, “incompetent” and “irresponsible”.

Ivanishvili said that he thought Davit Bakradze, the leader of UNM parliamentary minority group, “was a talented” person, but changed his mind after Bakradze voiced UNM’s conditions.
“We, the [parliamentary] majority, do not need their help and we are not engaging in the horse trading,” PM Ivanishvili said. “It’s up to them to decide whether to support or not these amendments; it won’t change anything for the country.”

He said that the way how UNM lawmakers vote over these constitutional changes would determine their future political fate. “They will either make their positions totally unacceptable for the Georgian society or will give some kind of perspective to their positions.”

On UNM’s proposal to include a new clause in the constitution that would make pro-Western foreign policy course legally binding for government, PM Ivanishvili said: “Why has it to be written in the constitution?”

Change of Georgia’s foreign policy course is “unimaginable”, he said.

“This [western foreign policy course] is not the choice of either Saakashvili or… any other previous government… This is the will of the Georgian people and we simply express the will of the Georgian people while moving in this path.”

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