Guest post – Malkhaz Nakashidze on Georgia

Constitutional Amendments in Georgia
Malkhaz Nakashidze
Since 2004 the Georgia has had a semi-presidential Constitution. Indeed, since the 2004 amendments Georgia has had a President-Parliamentary form of semi-presidentialism with a President who has strong legislative and non-legislative powers. On May 11, 2010, the State Constitutional Commission of Georgia adopted a set of recommendations for constitutional amendments.

I think that the revisions are interesting, because, if approved, they will reduce both the legislative and the non-legislative powers of the President. Also, if approved, the amendments will significantly increase the role of the Parliament and the Government, and the Prime Minister will become a more important “player” than is currently the case.

If the amendments are passed, then:
– The President will remain the Head of the State, but will not lead and exercise the internal and foreign policy of the state;
– The Government of Georgia will be the supreme organ of the executive branch and will exercise the domestic and foreign policy of the State and will be accountable to Parliament;
– The President will not be able to dissolve the Government and dismiss Ministers on his/her own initiative;
– The Government shall be deemed dismissed before the newly elected Parliament and not before newly elected President;
– The President shall nominate a candidate of Prime Minister from the list proposed by the political group with the best result in the Parliamentary elections;
– The Government shall be authorized to submit the Draft Budget to the Parliament without the consent of the President;
– The President shall not approve the State Budget by a decree;
–  A Rule will be introduced according to which legal acts of the President of Georgia shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister;
–  The Government shall adopt decrees and resolutions on the basis of the constitution and laws but not on the basis of the normative acts of the President;

If passed, the amended Constitution will state that the President of Georgia shall negotiate with foreign states and conclude international conventions and agreements but only with the consent of the Government. In my opinion, the President should retain the right negotiate with foreign states and conclude international conventions and agreements without the consent of the Government but with the approval of the legislature.

By contrast, in the amended Constitution, the President will retain the right to initiate legislation. As a rule, in semi-presidential countries the right to legislative initiative lies with the Government and not the President. I believe the Government, not the President, should have the right of legislative initiative.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendments have not changed the issue about the partisanship of the President. The Constitutional Commission did consider the issue of a non-partisan President, but in the end did not decide in this way. Thus, Article 72 of Constitution will state that President of Georgia shall not have the right to hold any other position except for a party position i.e. the president is not required to be non-partisan. The partisanship of the President can pose a threat in semi-presidential systems.

Finally, it should be noted that there are many interesting issues that are not directly related to semi-presidentialism and that, as a result, have not been analyzed in this article.

Malkhaz Nakashidze
Assistant – Professor
Shota Rustaveli State University
Batumi, Georgia

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