GIP Commentary: The Venice Commission Opinion on Georgia’s Constitutional Reforms

Joseph Larsen*

Shortly after winning a substantial majority in last year’s parliamentary elections, GD formed a 73-member Constitutional Reform Commission to prepare a new constitution—one that would transform the country from its current semi-presidential system to a full-fledged parliamentary republic. After four months of deliberation, the Commission approved a draft constitution on April 22. But before the new constitution can be put to a vote, the Constitutional Reform Commission must get the blessing of Georgia’s European partners.

That approval came on June 16. The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission adopted a favorable opinion on the draft constitution. Their assessment is mostly positive, concluding that the reforms put the country on the path toward a parliamentary system and (should) result in a more proportional system of representation.

Its recognizes the problems, too: the five percent threshold for entering parliament; the rule about reallocating undistributed seats to the winning party; and abolishing electoral blocs. However, the Venice Commission took GD at its word that would accept its recommendations. The Commission is also not bothered by the idea of an indirect election system for the president, which it says is in line with European parliamentary standards.

Main takeaways from the Venice Commission decision

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