A long-time lawmaker Davit Bezhuashvili has quit the UNM parliamentary minority group, leaving the opposition with 51 members in the 150-seat legislative body.
Bezhuashvili, who is behind country’s one of the largest business conglomerates, Georgian Industrial Group whose assets range from coal mining and energy sector to real estate and beverage production, is a majoritarian MP from Tetritskaro constituency in Kvemo Kartli region. He is brother of Gela Bezhuashvili, who served as foreign minister and intelligence chief under ex-president Saakashvili’s administration.
MP Davit Bezhuashvili, who is MP since 1999, has not yet spoken about reasons behind his decision, but senior UNM lawmaker Giorgi Gabashvili said: “He told us that he would better perform his duties as a majoritarian MP by being an independent lawmaker. He also said that he is not going to join any other political group.”
Like Bezhuashvili, other 13 lawmakers, who have quit UNM parliamentary minority group, are also majoritarian MPs. Georgia’s past parliamentary experience shows that majoritarian MPs, especially those who are not active political figures, are more inclined towards cooperating with a governing party.
MP Gabashvili also said that it was important that MP Bezhuashvili quit the parliamentary minority group now and not before the entry of new constitution into force, when, as he claimed, “pressure” was exerted on some UNM lawmakers to switch sides to collect 100 votes for endorsing two constitutional changes.
New constitution, which was enacted on November 17 upon inauguration of the new president, makes it far more difficult to amend the constitution, increasing number of required votes from 100 to 113; in addition any constitutional amendment has to be endorsed twice with an interval of at least three months.
Before the entry of new constitution into force, GD, which has 85 lawmakers, wanted to put on vote a draft of constitutional amendment offering keeping two-thirds majority (100 votes) for confirming a constitutional change. But the draft was not put on vote because GD was falling at least two votes short of 100.
Another constitutional amendment, which GD wanted and still wants to endorse and which is opposed by UNM, is a proposal to relocate parliament from Kutaisi back to capital city Tbilisi. 113 votes are now needed for endorsement of these changes, meaning that GD is now falling at least 14 or possibly 15 votes short.