Parliament adopts constitutional changes with first reading

  • The second reading of the draft will be held later this week. Photo by Parliament of Georgia press office., 14 Dec 2017 - 14:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

The parliament of Georgia has adopted the remaining changes planned for the state constitution with its first reading, meaning two other readings are still ahead until the final approval of the amendments.

Since Georgia adopted the new constitution in October this year, some new changes are still to be made in the country’s main law, recommended by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

The changes will concern:

  • Election blocs: if confirmed the amended law will allow election blocs to take part in the 2020 parliamentary elections. It will be a one-time permit.
  • The method of sharing of undistributed votes: Votes received by political parties who fail to gain seats in the legislative body will be fairly shared between the parties that will enter parliament.
  • The freedom of religious, assembly and association: Article 16 in the current constitution will be changed. The existing law reads that "freedom of word, view, conscience, religious and belief can be restricted only in line with the law, for to ensure security of state and public, to avoid crime, to protect health, to carry out justice or to protect others’ rights.”  The draft of changes removes words from the article like "security of state, "to avoid crime” and to "carry out justice.”
  • The constitutional court: The draft boosts the rights of the constitutional court in terms of election issues and declaring elections unconstitutional. In the case of the presence of a relevant suit the court will have a three-month time period to discuss it. The draft annuls the note which says that for declaring elections unconstitutional the consent of all nine members of the court is mandatory.
  • The term of the presidential election: the term "voter” will be replaced by the "member of the election board”, referring to the group of specially selected people who will indirectly elect the president after 2018.

115 lawmakers voted for the draft today; the adoption of the bill needed at least 113 votes. The Georgian Dream ruling party has 116 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body.