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Georgian Parliament overrides president’s constitution veto

16 October 2017
Georgian Parliament (wikimedia.org)

Georgia’s parliament has overridden President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto of a package of constitutional amendments.

The constitutional majority of the ruling Georgian Dream party voted against incorporating additional remarks from the president on 13 October.

Margvelashvili vetoed the package on 9 October, calling it ‘the veto of consent’, as he had included changes which were supported by more than 20 opposition political parties.

The US Embassy in Georgia said on 13 October they supported recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, an advisory body of constitutional experts, and were ‘disappointed that the sides involved could not reach consensus’.

Many of the commission's recommendations were included in the president’s changes.

[For details about Venice Commission recommendations to Georgia: Head of Venice Commission ‘disappointed’ with Georgia’s constitutional changes]

The president’s version of the amendments included six core changes to the version adopted by parliament.

Georgian Dream said earlier that they would support the veto if Margvelashvili included only the changes they agreed to. These included scrapping the proposed bonus system — which would allocate votes from parties not crossing the 5% threshold to enter parliament to the winning party — and maintain electoral blocs, which are to be prohibited.

Margvelashvili’s version of the constitution included other changes including the timing of a shift to a fully proportional system of election MPs, and how the president would be chosen.

The amendments from Georgian Dream envision the move taking place in 2024, while the president has suggested the changes come into force in for the next parliamentary elections in 2020.

The current amendments will also replace direct presidential elections, while Margvelashvili suggested that this should be decided on only once Georgia introduces a two-chamber Parliament.

As parliament was unable to change the content of the presidential veto, they voted against it. Opposition parties have labelled the changes a ‘one-party constitution’, as it was supported by only the ruling party and two other MPs.

Georgia’s constitution entered into force in 1995. While the majority of changes adopted in the package will be enforced next year, the amendments will not come fully into force until 2030.

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