Friday, 03 March 2017 10:35
SCC second and third working groups held the joint sitting. The second group competence covers the Parliament, Finance and Control and Revision of the Constitution and the competences of the third group – Chapters on the President, Government and Defense.
According to the SCC Chair, Irakli Kobakhidze, the joint sitting was decided due to the Chapters within the II and III group competences are interrelated. “Our intention was to in complex format consider the respective issues. I mean the regulatory norms of the Parliament, the President, Government, Defense and Budgetary issues. Deriving that these issues are complex with the nature, we considered it expedient to hold the joint sitting”.
The SCC members appealed to discuss the common approach of the Ruling Party prior to considerations. “Often, we find it complicated to discuss the particular Articles without knowing the direction we take and the direction we want to take, without having the uniform system. Taking all these circumstances into account, we discussed it in the Ruling Party on the top level. We have not discussed it with the Majority yet, in enlarged format comprising 116 MPs. We discussed it and I can introduce the approaches to the uniform system now”. This approach cannot be the ultimate.
“The Commission has been set up to extend discussions. We just want to introduce out visions on the basis of which we can find consideration of some norms and the system in general easier. It was the appeal of the Commission and let me introduce our common view which cannot be final”.
He noted that enactment of some regulations taking the political context and reality into account can depend on various factors or all new regulations cannot enact at the same time. One of such issues is Presidential Elections. The leadership of the ruling party, in view of prevention of speculations, considers it expedient to hold the direct elections first followed with transmission to the next system.
“One of the main subjects of speculation was the Presidential election. We often mentioned as if the primary and the sole objective of set up of the Commission was to prevent eligibility of the incumbent President to run for elections. We consider that we shall give no reasons for speculations. Hence, the position of the ruling party is that we shall hold the direct elections first prior to transition to the other system that we may communicate on. As to communication of the system, if depends on the Commission”.
The common view of the ruling party declared after the first sitting envisages maintenance of the current Parliamentary system which is the best mechanism for long-term prevention of formation of authoritarianism in the country.
“Today we have the Parliamentary system in Georgia and we declared that the only preliminary decision concerns administration form – we intend to maintain the current form. When in 2010 the then reform was estimated by the Venice Commission, it was noted that the main progressive step made concerned aspiration to the Parliamentary system. And we also consider that the Parliamentary system as it is universally recognized, creates much more guarantees for democracy and pluralism than the Presidential or semi-Presidential system. We presume that maintenance of the Parliamentary system shall be the primary task as it is the best mechanism for long-term prevention of formation of authoritarianism in our country”.
The Parliamentary system is based on 3 main pillars – powerful Parliament, effective Government and independent Court. “Correspondingly, we want our system to be based on these 3 principles”. Speaking about the role of the President, he noted that the President plays the role of the arbiter and he/she cannot become the political figure. “Our task is to ensure formation of the President into the arbiter under the Constitution preventing him/her to become the political figure but to be the public figure as it is in the Parliamentary Republics”.
The current electoral system gives some privileges to the winner party and puts weaker parties to the opposition, which is the main peculiarity of the system. “As we consider, the electoral system shall be finally established in Georgia to further enhance the positions of the opposition and the main instrument for it is transition to the proportional system. It naturally has its peculiarities starting from the electoral thresholds up to other issues. The particular draft we submitted manifests our view about the proportional system”.
He spoke about one of the subjects of criticism of Venice Commission – vote of non-confidence. As a result of changes, voting confidence was drastically complicated and the current procedure is not in compliance with the checks and balances standards. “One of our tasks is to ensure compliance of this procedure with the checks and balances principle and international standards. I would like to state what we have mentioned regarding Venice Commission. If any of the norms are negatively estimated in legal terms by Venice Commission, we will not adopt these norms. Correspondingly, in case of vote of non-confidence, our task is to ensure compliance of all these circumstances with the Western standards”.
Media unfortunately held some speculations on vote of non-confidence through misleading interpretations: “When we speak about improvement of vote of non-confidence, it is interpreted by media and some experts as if the Parliament confronts the Government and we mean personification. As if the incumbent Parliament confronts with the Prime Minister and the Government and in this perspective introduce the changes dictated with the will to ensure compliance with the standards and sharing Venice Commission recommendations”.
He called on MPs to ensure maximal accuracy when commenting to media about the Commission sittings. “In general I would like to say: often the information beyond the Commission is quite different. Within 5 meters we lose truth. Commission Members, leaving the sittings, comment to media in absolute incompliance with the reality. For instance, a couple of days ago misleading information was distributed regarding the considerations we held. So, I would like to call on you to keep accuracy of information especially with media”.
Stability standard of the Government shall be adhered in line with the common principles established in modern democracy and the world. Speaking about judicial independence he noted that the principal part of the Chapter on Court remains unchanged, though there are some changes to further increase independence of Common Courts: “I mean delegation of competences from the President to the bodies based on Court self-regulation and self-governance and the Venice Commission issued some regulations. If we see the effect of this change in long-term perspective, we will be assured that it serves for further enhancement of judicial independence”.
He touched upon the role of the President and stated that the reality mismatches the main principle of the Parliamentary system and all the efforts shall be directed to prevent confusion of the executive competences and overlapping between the President and the Government. After reforms in 2010, the Presidential authorities are restricted at the extent that it makes withdrawal of any of the Articles from the Constitution. We shall transit to the direct Presidential election in 7 years.
“We almost leave our status unchanged. We almost do not touch the authorities of the President. As to the election, it is natural of principal importance and it again became the subject of speculations. We want to show you that the task lies not in this particular situation but with particular decision-making. So, we consider that the direct Presidential elections and it is our final point – shall enact later but we also consider that for healthy functioning of the system we shall transit to indirect election in 7 years”.
Indirect and direct elections do not change competences: “Competences are outlined under the Constitution, though incorrect interpretations often are given to the authorities deriving from the direct election. We consider that for achievement of the ultimate goal and formation of the effective Parliamentary system, we shall finally transit to indirect Presidential election system”.
When the President acts as the political figure, it restricts the role of the Parliament shading the Parliament. It is paramount that the political processes in the Parliamentary system, including party-political processes to be held in the Parliament and remain within. The only essential change that can touch the Presidential competences is related to Security Council. In fact there is the body giving advice to the President on the issues not covered under the Governmental competences, which is an absolute confusion and this issue was actively considered in 2010 by Venice Commission experts. “Hence, we discussed transformation of the Security Council into the National Defense Council with authorities in defense sphere. It shall act upon state of war and shall be chaired by the President. State of war requires joint coordination of the authority”.
Speaking about territorial arrangement, he noted that the common view of the ruling party is that “issue of new signals” will bring damage than benefit. “Yesterday, we held the sitting and the most of the group on territorial arrangement supports this position. The sitting was also attended by the representatives of Adjara and Abkhazia AR Governments. Issuing of new signal from the weaker position will bring more damage than benefit and thus, we shall keep the main message provided in the Constitution in 1995 envisaging that we do not touch the territorial arrangement issues without our compatriots residing in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali”.
Unfortunately, misleading information was distributed on the fundamental rights of the Constitution and the new record gives social state principle quite a new quality. “Information was provided as if the ruling party abstains from provision of social guarantees in the Constitution. In fact, if we see the whole picture we will see that the responsibility quality we offer is drastically increased. Today, we have not record about the social state principle, it is provided in the Preamble, though lost and fails to have the normative act force. We offer the special article to the Chapter I on social state principle unifying all social responsibilities and obligations imposed to the state towards the citizens and population”.
The Prosecutor’s Office shall be formed as an independent structure from the executive authority. As to the municipalities, the group achieved consensus and the municipal standards are increased. “Other than the standards, municipalities will be independent from the executive authority. It will be legitimated by the Parliament and municipalities shall be accountable to the Parliament”.
The location of Kutaisi Parliament can be considered as a technical issue with principal importance. “Upon changes, the promises given to Kutaisi population shall be taken into account. The promise was of temporary nature and related to some circumstances – granting Kutaisi with other functional meaning prior to moving the Parliament to Tbilisi. The main indication was made to the Technological University and respective infrastructures. Hence, we are somehow restricted with these promises and the promise can be reflected in the Constitution in two various forms. One – to withdraw the record from the Constitution leaving it in the Rules of Procedure, and two – leave the record as it is provided today”.
It is the common picture, though it is not final and the consultations will continue. “As to the common goal – I will be precise that this system excludes autocracy. In long-term perspective, it is the system providing long-term democratic development and formation into the healthy Parliamentary system which as we know is acknowledged as the most democratic and European system serving the basis for our Constitutional order. We think that with the changes we offer, we will achieve two goals outlined under the Resolution of the Parliament – first is full compliance of the Constitutional law with the principles and modern standards and the second is fundament for our long-term democratic development”.
Regarding the proportional system Parliamentary election terms, he noted that the ruling party has the concrete position, though this issue is not yet communicated with 116 MPs. “We know the attitude of Members of Parliament. Various attitudes have been formed regarding the electoral system. Naturally, we cannot express our final position without prior communication of the issue with 116 MPs on Parliamentary elections, including enactment terms. The only thing I can state is that we have experience from the preceding Parliament. Enactment of the system changes was complicated during the preceding Parliament and hence, on the basis of the consensus we managed to raise the initiative on two-stage reform. If this initiative was supported, today no one would move back and enactment of the proportional system in 2020 would not put to agenda. Though, today we are back to the starting position we had 2 years ago. I do not mean that I exclude or consider it difficult to achieve consensus within the ruling party though I state note that it can be related to some difficulties. The intact position of the ruling party leadership is that the proportional system will be more beneficial in terms of party and political system development, though we shall further discuss it and achieve the final consensus”.After the speech of the Chairman, the sitting resumed to question and answer mode.