Georgia wants to be not only number one reformer or number one corruption fighter, but also the country which has “cleanest elections,” President Saakashvili told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington on March 17.
“We have good consultations with several political parties from opposition on new election code,” he said. “Previous [May, 2010 local] elections were deemed as a big step forward, but we want to make an ideal elections.”
“That’s pretty achievable with the climate we have,” he added.
‘Transition Already Started’
During a question and answer session with the audience Saakashvili was asked about transition and his plans after his term in office expires in 2013, when the new constitution goes into force.
Saakashvili responded that “Georgia has already started the process of transition.” He cited May, 2010 local elections and in particular direct election of Tbilisi mayor.
He did not respond to the question about his plans under the new constitution, which will create a possibility for him to stay in power as Prime Minister, whose role will be significantly strengthened under the new model expected to go into force in late 2013.
Saakashvili, however, said that Georgia “will move beyond personalities and will be performing democracy and it is already going that way.”
He said that under the new constitution President would still remain “very powerful” and described PM’s role in the new model as “more important, than under the today’s constitution.”
Saakashvili told the audience at the Brookings Institution that under the new constitution President would be “still in charge of foreign policy and security policy.” “And he also runs significant part of daily executive government,” he said.
He also said that the President would also have important “regulatory powers”, referring to various regulatory commissions.
According to the new constitution passed in October, 2010, which will go into force right after the presidential elections in late 2013, President will no longer direct and exercise domestic and foreign policy of the state. This authority will be delegated to PM and the government.
President will have the right to appoint or dismiss chief of staff of the armed forces and other top military commanders, but only with agreement of the government. President will have the right to nominate members of telecommunications and energy regulatory commissions but again only with an agreement of government.
Saakashvili also said that his prediction was that “Prime Ministers will be changed much more frequently than President” under the new constitution.
Non-confidence vote to the government, under the new constitution, will make it a complicated process to sack PM, which will take at least 45 or 55 days, or in case of the presidential veto on new prime ministerial nominee it will take 92 days.
‘Higher Standards Than Average’
Saakashvili was also asked about Freedom House qualifying Georgia as “partly free.” He responded that in the recent survey by the Freedom House, Georgia’s score in civil liberties was improved.
He said that he was expecting more upgrade in Georgia’s overall standing in the survey after the 2012 parliamentary elections.
He said that Georgia was “held accountable to higher standards than average”.
“We are used to that,” Saakashvili added.