Two more parliamentary factions will be established within the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, increasing the total number of ruling party factions to eight, according to Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.
Kobakhidze, who spoke on the matter on December 16, said consultations on establishing two more factions had started during the autumn session of the Parliament and that the decision would be approved by the parliamentary bureau before the end of 2017. He also dismissed the “speculations” that the reshuffle was related to internal disagreements within the ruling party, and added that the change would “contribute to making the parliamentary majority management more efficient.”
Media reports that the parliamentary majority was considering establishing additional factions through breaking up its largest – 86-member Georgian Dream – faction, appeared on December 15, with Mamuka Mdinaradze, chairman of the Georgian Dream faction, confirming that there would be two additional factions within the majority group, and that it would happen “through consultations.”
Archil Talakvadze, leader of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, noted then that the two additional factions would be established “to improve coordination, efficiency and working process management” within the parliamentary majority. “This will allow us to make the coordination between political groups, within the parliamentary majority and the ruling team more flexible and more mobile,” Talakvadze said.
Talakvadze spoke on the reshuffle on December 16 as well, confirming earlier reports that the new parliamentary groups would be led by majoritarian MPs Bidzina Gegidze and Gocha Enukidze.
Media outlets have also reported that the decision to divide the Georgian Dream faction into three smaller groups, was related to a recent row between Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Giorgi Gachechiladze, a singer and a TV personality.
Gachechiladze, who is a close friend of MP Bidzina Gegidze, convened a press conference on December 12 together with Citroen Georgia (owned and managed by Gachechiladze’s son-in-law) lawyers, accusing the authorities of giving preferential treatment to car dealer companies allegedly affiliated to Tariel Khechikashvili, former Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs.
Gachechiladze, however, ruled out the participation of Giorgi Kvirikashvili, saying the Prime Minister was “completely clean,” and that “they were trying to take advantage of this and to smear his name.”
PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili responded in his press remarks a day later that the accusations were “unfortunate and unjustified, and called on Gachechiladze to appeal to the Competition Agency or the court.” “I cannot listen to how I am being praised; it is a lot more humiliating when he is insulting our team members,” Kvirikashvili said, adding that he would be ready to assume full responsibility, including through quitting his post, if the court confirmed that the Government was to be blamed in it.
Both Bidzina Gegidze and Gocha Enukidze, dismissed the claims that the two developments were related, with the former saying it was “just a coincidence,” and the latter attributing the decision to “management and more coordination between MPs.”
The Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, which consists of 116 lawmakers, unites six factions. The Georgian Dream and the Georgian Dream-Industrialists factions were established at the new parliament’s inaugural session on November 18, 2016. The Georgian Dream-Conservatives, the Georgian Dream-Social-Democrats and the Georgian Dream for Regional Development were established later, on December 26. The sixth parliamentary faction – the Georgian Dream-Greens - was established on January 23.
Parliamentary faction is a group of at least six MPs, which gives certain privileges to its members, involving a seat and right to vote in the parliament’s bureau (the body which determines the parliamentary sessions’ agenda), guaranteed seats in committees, investigative and other ad hoc commissions and parliamentary delegations, as well as allocation of more time during debates and discussions in the Parliament.