UNM is ready to support GD-proposed constitutional changes on presidential powers, but on the condition if at first the Parliament holds a non-binding, test vote to see whether Georgian Dream has enough votes or not to endorse the bill, MP Davit Bakradze, the leader of parliamentary minority group, said.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting of UNM parliamentary minority group late on Tuesday night, Bakradze said that UNM wanted such test vote in order to put an end to Georgian Dream coalition's claims that the constitutional amendment will be passed no matter of UNM's decision.
It was announced on Tuesday evening that the parliamentary session will start discussing constitutional amendment, stripping the President of his right to dismiss government and appoint new one without Parliament's approval, on March 21 with voting expected either on the same day or next day.
At least 100 votes are required for a constitutional amendment to be endorsed. GD has now 83 lawmakers; UNM has 53 MPs although initially it had 65, but 12 lawmakers quit President Saakashvili's party since the October elections (one of them joined GD parliamentary majority group).
Some of the GD lawmakers say they were confident that proposed constitutional amendment would be endorsed as there were MPs within UNM who were willing to vote for the constitutional amendments if their party decides otherwise.
"If they [GD] really have more than 100 votes as they boast - no problem, so they really do not need our votes and they will pass the amendment without our support," Bakradze told Rustavi 2 TV after the meeting of parliamentary minority group. "But let's make everything clear and hold test vote - according to our estimations they [GD] have no more than 94 votes, so they need our support."
"We will give them exactly as many votes as they require for endorsing this constitutional amendment - if they need six votes, they will get it from us; if they need twenty votes, we will add our twenty votes. But let's stop this kind of talk that they [GD] will do it by ignoring our opinion," Bakradze said.
"Let them acknowledge that they need our votes and we are ready to give them as many votes as they need," he added.
When asked about reports that there was a split within UNM over the issue with some of its members tending in favor of voting for the constitutional amendment and others remaining strongly against, Bakradze responded that UNM took the decision unanimously.
He, however, also said that during the meeting late on March 19, the parliamentary minority group was ready to hold voting within UNM MPs to take the final decision. "But no vote was required, because there was complete consensus [within UNM]," Bakradze said.
He said that UNM did not want GD and the government to have a pretext for accusing the opposition and the President of wanting to undermine political stability in the country.
"So we are supporting this constitutional amendment. But at the same time we also do not want and we will not let anyone to speak in a derogatory manner about UNM, as if our votes do not mean anything and as if it will be possible [to pass constitutional changes] automatically without our support. No, it won't happen automatically, so dear colleagues from the parliamentary majority, let's hold a test vote to see how many votes you lack and we will give you these votes in order to show that we are taking this step jointly and not like you want it - you want to take the step separately and you want to drag us by twisting our arms," Bakradze said.
"So if your [referring to GD MPs] goal is really passing of this constitutional amendments, you will have enough votes, but if your goal is to humiliate the opposition, sorry, but you won't get it," he added.