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Controversial Proposal on Number of Parliamentary Seats Debated
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Nov.'11 / 20:10

Parliament will launch discussion of a draft of constitutional amendment envisaging increase of number of lawmakers from current 150 to 190 from December 20, a senior ruling party lawmaker, Pavle Kublashvili, said on November 28.

The controversial draft was debated on November 28 at a meeting with a group of civil society representatives, who have slammed the proposal as contravening 2003 referendum results in which voters said number of MPS should not be more than 150. Opponents say that the 2003 referendum results can only be revised through a new referendum.

If approved, the draft of constitutional amendment will pave way for increasing number of parliamentary seats allocated through party-list, proportional system from current 75 to 107 and increase of majoritarian seats allocated through elections in single-mandate constituencies from current 75 to 83.
 
The proposal is one of the key parts of an electoral system reform deal, signed by the ruling National Movement party and several other parties on June 27.

During the discussions on November 28, MP Kublashvili put forth several arguments in defense of the proposal; he argues that the 2003 referendum is in itself illegal because it was not held on the entire territory of the country (reference to the fact that the referendum did not cover the breakaway regions). The ruling party also argues that the 2003 referendum was illegal because change of law through a referendum is unconstitutional; it claims that article 74 of the Georgian Constitution, which says that “the referendum shall not be held with the view of adopting or repealing law,” was violated because the 2003 referendum consequently required amending the constitution.

MP Kublashvili also argues that the referendum results no longer stand because it was not reflected in the constitution within a month from the referendum as envisaged by the law; MP Kublashvili argues, that when Parliament passed constitutional amendment in 2005, downsizing seats in the parliament to 150 the decision formally was not based on the referendum results, thus there is no need for a new referendum. Back in 2005 President Saakashvili was citing referendum results when speaking in support of downsizing the Parliament.  

But as Tatuli Todua of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association said during the discussions no one had ever challenged the 2003 referendum’s legality through court, thus its result was still valid.

The Parliament will most likely pass the draft of constitutional amendment; the opponents of the proposal can then appeal to the Constitutional Court with a request to annul this constitutional amendment.

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