What are the major highlights of the new draft constitution?
In a new spike of vociferous controversy over Georgia’s planned constitutional changes, members of the opposition and NGOs who are part of a special constitutional commission developing the changes have threatened to take leave of the commission, saying the draft law it published on 10 April does not in any way reflect their criticisms and recommendations.
The commission has until the end of April to make new changes to the document and to come up with the final draft, which will then be put on the table in parliament. If the draft published on 10 April becomes law, the following will happen:
—Georgia’s president will no longer be directly chosen by ordinary voters. Instead, a system of indirect elections is going to be put in place where it will be up to 300 delegates to elect the president. The delegates will include 150 MPs, 26 members of the supreme councils of Ajara and Abkhazia, and 124 representatives of local administrations.
—The minimum age for presidential candidates will be increased from 35 to 40 years old, as will the residency requirement – from 5 to 15 years.
—Security and defense issues will no longer fall within the president’s purview, and the security council currently functioning under the president will be scrapped. It is only in times of military emergency that the president will preside over the national defense council.
—The president will no longer be the country’s highest-ranking representative in foreign relations.
—The president will no longer be entitled to nominate candidates for the posts of chairperson and judges of the supreme court. The supreme justice council will do it on their behalf.
—The current electoral system – a hybrid combining proportional and majoritarian election elements – will be replaced by one based solely on proportional representation.
—The minimum share of a total vote a party will need to obtain to get into the parliament – the so-called ‘electoral threshold’ – will remain set at 5%.
—The parliament will continue to reside in Kutaisi.
—A referendum will be called any time a tax needs to be established or increased, etc.