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The political crisis in Georgia after the parliamentary elections on the example of the struggle between the government and the opposition and a possible solution

The political crisis in Georgia after the parliamentary elections on the example of the struggle between the government and the opposition and a possible solution


Nika Chitadze. 

Professor at the International University of the Black Sea

Director of the Center for International Studies 

 President of the George C. Marshall Alumni Union, Georgia - International and Security Research Center

As it is known for the international society, the next political crisis has been arisen in Georgia after the October 31, 2020 parliamentary elections, and the main reason is the fact, that opposition parties have accused the Central Election Commission and the ruling party “Georgian Dream” in falsifying election results and usurpation the power. The National Democratic Institute and the American Republican Institute have expressed their critical views in this regard. A relatively soft position was fixed by the OSCE Office for Democracy and Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

As a result, those opposition parties, that have passed the 1% barrier and obtained a corresponding number of seats in Georgia's 10th convocation parliament are refusing to enter to the country's legislature body.

As it is known, the international community, in particular the representatives of various international organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the European Union, as well as various countries, through their diplomatic missions call the opposition to enter to the Parliament.

The situation is complicated by the fact, that despite the efforts of Georgia's Western partners to resolve the election issues between the opposition and the government and the political crisis in general, there is still no point of contact within the negotiations process between the political entities. The opposition categorically refuses to enter to the parliament and demands new elections under the new electoral administration, while the government underlines the issue that the holding of new elections will not be considered.

Based on the above, the question arises whether the Parliament of Georgia of the 10th convocation will start working in the conditions if it will be composed by only 90 deputies, only representatives of the ruling party? This issue is also related to important legal and political problems, in particular, the Supreme Law of Georgia, the Constitution of the country states the following: “The first sitting of the newly elected Parliament is held no later than the 10th day after the official announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections. The first sitting is appointed by the President of Georgia. The Parliament is authorized to start working at the first sitting, if the majority of the full composition of the Parliament is presented at the sitting. Parliament shall be fully empowered from the moment of notification of two-thirds of the members of Parliament. From this moment, the authority of the parliament of the previous convocation is terminated. "

Accordingly, if we imagine that all the candidates on the list of the opposition party will write a statement for resignation, in this case, according to the existed rules, 90 deputies have the right to open a session, but the CEC (Central Election Commission) chairperson can no longer nominate the power of one hundred deputies. This number is necessary to recognize the power of new elected parliament. Under the given circumstances, there is a corresponding probability that the parliament of the tenth convocation will cease its existence on the first day. However, representatives of the ruling party declare that they will not remove the mandate of MP from members of the opposition parties. In this case, too, there is one important legal issue, namely, the Constitution states the recognition of the powers of a Member of Parliament: “The issue of recognition or early termination of the powers of a Member of Parliament is decided by Parliament. This decision of the Parliament can be appealed in the Constitutional Court. The term of office of a Member of Parliament shall be terminated prematurely if he / she:

"Addresses the Parliament with a personal statement on termination of authority ..........". That is, it is not clearly stated in the Constitution whether the authority of a Member of Parliament will be automatically terminated on the basis of a personal statement? Does the parliament have the right not to suspend the representative of the legislature of the country? Will the ruling party have the legal right to make any decision - for example, on the suspension / non-suspension of a member of parliament if the powers of the tenth convocation parliament are not known? Or can members of parliament of the 9th convocation terminate or not terminate the parliamentary mandate of a representative of an opposition party when the mandate of the parliament of the previous convocation has not yet been terminated?

Given the above-mentioned crisis situation, it is probably necessary to analyze what both the opposition and the government are winning and losing in the current situation.

What does the opposition gain and lose if it does not enter to parliament?

In case of not entering to the parliament, the opposition can win the following:

It assures both the Georgian population and the international community that the October 31, 2020 parliamentary elections were marred by significant irregularities, which is why the opposition does not recognize the legitimacy of the newly elected parliament;

In addition, the opposition asserts its principledness to the Georgian and international community that it is committed to its position, and because of this principle, a particular politician relinquishes his or her privileges of being a Member of Parliament and, as a result, has a high position and high payment etc.

Also, the parliament of the tenth convocation will be composed only by the ruling party “Georgian Dream”, which will create some discomfort for the ruling party within the parliamentary activity;

The opposition will not lose its supporters, most of whom have their own demands to the opposition, which is related to the non-entry of barrier-ridden political parties into parliament.

As for what the opposition may lose, the following should be noted:

Although, as already mentioned, the parliament will be staffed only by members of the “Georgian Dream”, which will make it inconvenient to work in the legislative direction, the Georgian Dream will be able to make adopt different decisions without any critics from the opposition side, including laws and other type of declarations etc. which are unacceptable for the opposition;

Taking into account the situation with COVID 19, the opposition may find it difficult to mobilize large numbers of its own supporters to organize permanent protests;

The opposition will be deprived the opportunity to use the parliamentary tribune to discuss a specific bill, adopt various resolutions or declarations, as well as summon government members to parliament and ask them questions, for example, during government hours within parliament and carry out other procedures;

The opposition will be deprived of the opportunity to express its position within the committee activities during the discussion of a specific bills;

According to current legislation, related to the existence of so-called "locking" mechanism, the ruling party will not be able to be presented with more than 90 members in the parliament, even if it wins in all 30 majoritarian constituencies (which has already happened). Accordingly, if there were 60 opposition members in the parliament, it would be possible that, like within the ninth convocation parliament, when more than a dozen deputies left the “Georgian Dream” etc. it would be possible to form an alliance against ruling party within the parliament. In other words, by not entering to the parliament, the opposition may lose potential allies - MPs from the ranks of the “Georgian Dream” who could be moved to the opposition within the concrete period of time;

Finally, according to the current position of the ruling party, it is possible to put on the agenda the issue of cutting funding for those opposition parties that refuse to be engaged in parliamentary work.

In addition, the demand of the opposition for resignation of Tamar Zhvania (Chairman of the Central Election Commission) and the entire election administration, also has some difficulties. In particular, given the current political situation, there is no guarantee that the new election administration will be staffed by more "neutral" individuals acceptable to the opposition;

In addition, totally the Election Commission includes about 22,000 employees at the central and regional levels, and the complete replacement of all these people requires a lot of time and very difficult selection procedures.

What does the incumbent party “Georgian Dream” win and lose?

There are several factors that can help the ruling party to conduct its parliamentary activities. In particular, if the parliament of the tenth convocation functions, the “Georgian Dream” will be able to draft relevant bills inside of the parliamentary committees and then to submit the relevant documents to the plenary session for the final approval without any critical remarks from the opposition side;

In the tenth convocation parliament, the ruling party will be able to approve the state budget of Georgia for the appropriate coming years;

The ruling party will be able to approve the candidacy of the Prime Minister and the government;

The government will have the monopoly right to use the parliamentary tribune.

What does the ruling party lose?

Considering the fact that according to Article 42, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution of Georgia related to the Parliamentary Commission of Investigation and other Temporary Commissions: "The opposition should not be less than half of the total number of members in the temporary commission", the new parliament will not be able to set up a commission of inquiry within the next parliament;

According to Article 47 of the Supreme Law of the country on "International Treaties" states that "Parliament shall ratify or denounce international treaties by a majority of its full membership. "Parliament shall ratify or denounce the international treaty provided for in subparagraph (c) of paragraph 2 of this article by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the total membership."

Accordingly, the parliament will face the problem of ratifying an international agreement, which is of a military nature, for example, if the issue of placing US military bases in Georgia is on the agenda, or envisages Georgia's entry into an international organization or to other interstate union, etc.

According to Article 77 of the Constitution of Georgia, which deals with the rule of revision of the Constitution, "a constitutional law shall be considered for adoption if it is supported by at least two thirds of the full membership of the Parliament." Consequently, the parliament will not be able to implement the constitutional changes.


In search of a possible way out from the crisis

The fact is that the country is in a very difficult situation due to the current realities and the spread of the coronavirus. Naturally, on the one hand, it would be better for political debates to take place in buildings rather than on the streets, but in some cases, given the specific political realities, the opposition and part of the society are forced to protest the socio-economic or political situation in the country by the peaceful demonstrations.

As for the solution, given the fact that despite the negotiation process, there are no common points of contact between the authorities and the opposition, it is necessary that both sides, especially the ruling party, to take some concrete compromise steps towards concessions.

In particular, the opposition must agree to enter parliament if the "Georgian Dream" agrees to hold the next parliamentary elections in a purely proportional manner (i. e. all 150 members of parliament will be elected proportionally, thus, 30 majoritarian constituencies will be abolished) and within the 1% electoral threshold in 2022, instead of  2024. It is also important that the forthcoming parliamentary elections are conducted electronically (Estonian model), which eliminates errors in ballot counting, as well as the using of administrative resources (e.g. mobilization of activists of the ruling party at the polling stations) and other possible voting violations (e. g. the possibility of using so-called "voting carousels”).

In addition, under the conditions of electronic elections, more citizens of Georgia with the voting rights will have the opportunity to participate in the elections. As it is known, 56% of the population (eligible to vote) participated in the elections which were held on October 31 of the current year. One of the main reasons why 44% of the population did not (or could not) participate in the elections is that only 38 polling stations were opened in different countries of the world for Georgian citizens - living outside of Georgia (their number exceeds one million). In addition, a significant proportion of citizens living in Georgia, live outside their place of residence (registration address). For example, many citizens living in the region have come to Tbilisi and other big cities of Georgia in search of work, etc. Consequently, many people were unable to physically travel to the region on October 31 of this year and vote from their place of residence.

Of course, all the above changes need a number of constitutional amendments, and for this the tenth convocation parliament must be composed by all 150 members, so that at least 2/3 of the members support the constitutional changes. In this case, the opposition may be given an additional motivation to enter to the parliament and support significant changes for Georgia in favor the development of democratic institutions in the country.


































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