What will the Parliament be like without the opposition?

10 December 2020

What kind of a Parliament are we going to have if the parliamentary opposition refuses to take up their seats and only the 90 MPs of Georgian Dream are represented in the legislative body?

According to the most recent constitutional amendments, Georgia is a parliamentary republic and, correspondingly, a properly working Parliament is of critical importance for the development of the country. The Parliament is a representative body of the people, it should express the choice and the will of the Georgian population. A one-party Parliament will not be able to fulfil the role of a representative body, will not be able to work properly and exercise oversight over the government. It will not be possible to fully staff the parliamentary offices and there will be many decisions that the Parliament will not be able to make due to the insufficient number of votes.

The Parliament consisting of 90 members will not be able to make decisions which require 100 or 113 votes, and it will be very difficult to mobilise 90 votes, too. And there are many such decisions.

Laws which the Parliament will not be able to pass

The Parliament passes constitutional amendments as well as the law on the ownership of agricultural land by two thirds of the total number of its members (100 votes).

Constitutional laws are passed by the Parliament by three quarters (113 votes) of the total number of its members within the Parliament of a single convocation.

Decisions which the Parliament will not be able to make

The Parliament, by three fifths (90 votes) of the total number of its members, elects the Public Defender, approves constitutional agreements, elects judges of the Constitutional Court, elects members of the High Council of Justice, declares a vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees of the Public Broadcaster.

By two thirds of the total number of its members (100 votes), the Parliament impeaches the president.

By three quarters (113 votes) of the total number of its members, the Parliament ratifies, denounces and annuls the agreements which concern territorial integrity of the state or changes in the state borders.

Offices which will remain vacant:

  • The Trust Group will consist of three instead of five members since, according to the Rules of Procedure, the parliamentary majority cannot fill the quota allocated for the opposition. This means that the oversight of the security sector, which is traditionally weak, will not, in fact, be exercised at all;
  • The Parliament will have two instead of four deputy speakers as two deputy speakers must be elected from the opposition factions;
  • The office of one deputy chairperson of committees will also remain vacant as one of the three deputy committee chairpersons must be representatives of the opposition;
  • The Parliament will have one instead of two members in the Prosecutorial Council since one MP must be a representative of the opposition;
  • If the need arises to form a selection commission for the Board of Trustees of the Public Broadcaster, six rather than nine members will be represented in it since it is the opposition’s right to nominate three members to the Parliament;
  • The Parliament will have two instead of three members in the commission to select candidates for the membership of the Pension Agency’s Investment Board, since the opposition will not be able to nominate its representative.

It will not be possible to form Temporary Investigative Commissions

Temporary Investigative Commissions are an important mechanism of parliamentary oversight. According to the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, at least half of the members of a Temporary Investigative Commission must consist of opposition representatives. Correspondingly, it will not be possible to form a Temporary Investigative Commission in the Parliament where there is no opposition.

It will not be possible to form the Ethics Council

In order to put the MP Code of Ethics into effect in the Parliament, the Ethics Council must be formed. The Council considers and responds to the violations of the Code of Ethics. According to the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, the number of representatives of the parliamentary majority in the Ethics Council must not exceed one half of its members.

Debates in the Parliament will become meaningless

According to the Rules of Procedure, the time allocated for debates is distributed among factions, each faction taking the floor for the maximum of 15 minutes. Correspondingly, the time for debates will be considerably reduced and limited to nothing more than the expression of opinion by the majority.

The permanent parliamentary delegations will be staffed solely by the majority members, and such delegations will not be approved by international organisations

The composition of the permanent parliamentary delegations is defined based on proportional representation quotas. In the absence of the opposition, a parliamentary delegation would just be a ruling party delegation.

It is noteworthy that international organisations make it obligatory to have the opposition participate in parliamentary delegations, the same way they do with regard to, for example, gender balance (see the Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Rules of Procedure of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly). A permanent parliamentary delegation nominated by a country is authorised only after the approval by an international organisation. Correspondingly, our country might have to spend four years without delegations in important international organisations.

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