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Parliament Endorses Constitutional Amendment
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Sep.'13 / 16:16

Parliament passed unanimously with 112 votes with its first reading a draft of Georgian Dream-proposed constitutional amendment envisaging cutting some of PM’s powers in a new constitutional model, which will go into effect after the presidential elections this year.

The proposal also involves adding of a new clause to upcoming new constitutional model, dealing with a case if Parliament fails to confirm state budget.

Before the vote on September 20, speaking on behalf of his party UNM lawmaker Pavle Kublashvili said the parliamentary minority was going to vote for the proposed constitutional amendment.

Although GD has enough votes in the parliament to overcome presidential vetoes (90 votes), it falls short of 100 votes required for endorsing a constitutional amendment.

“UNM will also support all the other possible proposals in the future, which will be directed towards strengthening role of the Parliament,” UNM MP Kublashvili said.

When discussing the proposed draft at a parliamentary session on September 18, UNM lawmakers were saying that they were ready to support the bill with its first reading; they, however, were also warning that they would have withdrawn support in consequent second reading if the GD parliamentary majority continued pushing for another draft of constitutional amendment, involving a proposal to keep threshold for passing any new constitutional change at two-thirds majority, instead of increasing it to three-fourths majority as envisaged by the new constitutional provisions, which will go into force after the presidential elections.

No such condition was mentioned in brief remarks delivered by the UNM MP before the vote on September 20, indicating that UNM will no longer tie its support to this draft with separate proposal on the threshold.

Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said on September 20 that draft of constitutional amendment on the threshold is still in the process of preparation, including through "active consultations" with the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs. It’s not yet clear when the Parliament will debate on this draft, which is strongly opposed by UNM.

This is the second time when the sitting Parliament passed a constitutional amendment. The first one was in March, when GD-sponsored draft, cutting some of the presidential powers, was unanimously passed after intense negotiations and disputes over the voting procedures.

The constitutional amendments, endorsed on September 20, involve a proposal to cut some of PM’s powers vis-à-vis parliament when changing cabinet members.

New constitutional provisions, adopted in 2010, which will be enacted after the new president, elected in the October 27 election takes oath, will significantly increase PM’s authority at the expense of cutting presidential powers.

Under the constitution, which is currently in force, in case of change of one-third of cabinet ministers, the entire government and the PM require to be re-confirmed by the Parliament.

This clause will be removed after the new constitution goes into force after the October election.

GD-proposed constitutional amendments offer to keep this clause in order not to allow PM to change more than third of cabinet members without Parliament’s authorization.

New constitution will give the PM right to initiate non-confidence vote against the cabinet in respect of any government-sponsored bill. In this case the Parliament will have to either confirm government-sponsored bill with one reading, instead of three hearings, within 14 days or will launch non-confidence vote procedures.

GD-proposed constitutional amendments envisage removing this clause from the new constitution.

GD-proposed amendments also envisage introduction of a new clause in the new constitution according to which if the Parliament fails to confirm state budget within first two months of new fiscal year, it will amount to launch of non-confidence vote procedures; but if the Parliament fails to confirm new government, the President will have the right to dissolve the Parliament and to call snap elections.

Under the constitution, which is now in force, the President has the right to either sack government or dissolve Parliament if the latter fails to confirm next year’s budget before the end of current year.

The Parliament has now to discuss and approve amendment with its second and third readings before sending it for signature to President Saakashvili.

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