150-seat Georgian Parliament was not able to vote on number of bills on April 12 as it lacked quorum of 76 lawmakers in the chamber required to proceed with voting.
Among others, the Parliament was expected to pass with its second reading draft amendments to the law on political parties, as well as to vote on a resolution in response to Public Defender Giorgi Tugushi’s annual human rights report, who delivered the report before the lawmakers at a session earlier on April 12. The voting on Christian-Democratic Movement’s proposal to launch procedures for sacking minister in charge of prison system, as well as minister in charge of internally displaced persons was also expected – the proposal is not supported by the ruling party.
A registration of MPs, which precedes an electronic voting, showed 98 MPs present in the chamber, but an opposition MP Jondi Bagaturia cast doubt telling Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, that fewer MPs were in fact present.
A repeat registration about ten minutes later showed 80 MPs present, but the same opposition MP kept insisting that number of lawmakers in the chamber was short of required 76.
After Parliament marshals, overseeing rules and order in the chamber, rechecked number of MPs actually present, Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze confirmed that the chamber lacked quorum.
“Several cases when absent MPs’ desks were used [for registration] have really been revealed. One-month salary of all these lawmakers will be withheld in accordance to our regulations. Thank you Mr. Bagaturia for assisting me in procedural issues, I appreciate it… There is no quorum so there will be no voting today and voting will be held during the next session [on April 24],” Bakradze said.
This is not a first case of ‘ghost voting’, wherein a lawmaker casts vote or undergoes registration instead of an absent colleague, in the Georgian Parliament. The Parliament’s regulations envisage withholding one-month salary for an absent lawmaker, whose desk was used for such practice, and not for the one who actually cast vote instead of an absent colleague.