Georgian Parliament Waiting for the Changes

Parliamentary Factions Start Dividing “Governmental Pie”

Giorgi Kalandadze. Civil Georgia

Georgian Parliament stays without elected chairman. Zhvania’s resignation triggered a process of formation of the new coalitions and alliances in the Parliament. This process is expected to last until November 6. President Shevardnadze, who had to dismiss whole executive government in amid students’ protest action 2 days ago, already started participating in the consultations. President’s meeting with Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze in Batumi would probably have an influence on Shevardnadze’s decisions.

“I am an only speaker of the parliament in the world who has own personal opposition,” stated Zhvania on November 1st. Later same day, he stepped down from his post. His “own” opposition currently does not share the same position anymore, because the chair of the speaker is vacant. According to the constitution, Chairman of the Parliament, a ‘person number 2’ in the country, is to takeover president’s post in case of latter’s resignation.

Couloirs of the Parliament talk about next possible candidates to the post of the Chairman: Vazha Lortkipanidze, Mikheil Saakashvili, David Gamkrelidze, Niko Lekishvili, Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, Gigi Tsereteli, Giorgi Targamadze, Jemal Gogitidze. However every one of abovementioned candidates do not have more chances than any other parliamentarian at the moment. Probably process of distribution of the parliamentary forces on other posts would have an influence on the decisions regarding appointment to the highest legislative position. Structural changes in the Parliament are a major issue of discussions these days.

“We demand complete reorganizing of the Parliament within the two weeks period. Forces in the Parliament are reallocated and the posts should be distributed according to the new balance. For example, we think that we should keep maximum 9 committees out of existing 16,”says Zurab Tkemaladze, Deputy Chairman of the “Industrialists” faction.

One month ago the faction created an alliance together with two other parliamentary unions: “New Abkhazia & Christian-Democrats” and “Traditionalist”. Alliance is called “The Center”. That time leaders of these factions have been telling to the press that the alliance might transform into the coalition. One month later, when both the Majority and the Opposition dissolved, “The Center” has become a coalition, but without “Industrialists” participation. “Traditionalist” Akaki Asatiani is leading the new coalition, which joins 25 parliamentarians.

“Our coalition does not consider proposing a candidature to the post of the Parliamentary Chairman yet” – says Akaki Asatiani, who has been a head of country’s supreme legislative organ in 1991. He believes that “the new speaker must not be a political figure, in order to exclude the issue of inheritance”.

Giorgi Baramidze, Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee, member of the “Citizens Union” faction agrees with Asatiani’s opinion. Baramidze considers that a coalition “which would not be managed by Shevardnadze could emerge. In such case Chairman of the Parliament must not necessarily be a political figure”.

Baramidze predicts the following faction to join into the coalition: “Citizens Union”, “Traditionalist”, “New Abkhazia & Christian-Democrats”, “Industrialists”, “Majoritarians” plus members of the former majority, who does not belong to any of the parliamentary factions. However, none of the leaders of the mentioned factions have expressed desire to join into the coalition so far.

Baramidze stresses necessity of preliminary parliamentary elections after adopting changes to the constitution and introducing a cabinet system of the executive government. Zurab Tkemaladze agrees with this opinion as well.

“Today the Parliament might adopt amendments to the constitution indeed. At this stage we have eliminated ‘issue of concrete person’ (Zurab Zhvania) from the process and the creation of the cabinet of the ministers would not be done because of ambitions of a particular figure. Probably it was a only way out of existing situation” – says leader of the “New Rightists” faction David Gamkrelidze.

Zurab Tkemaladze from the “Industrialists” faction believes that if the coalition emerges, then the cabinet should be composed by the coalition too.