CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM IN GEORGIA AS A RESULT OF ITS POLITICAL INSTABILITY

Beka CHEDIA


Beka Chedia, Ph.D. (Political Science), Head of Publishing Projects of the Tbilisi School of Political Studies (Tbilisi, Georgia)


Introduction

In the twenty years that have elapsed since Georgia gained its independence, it has failed to stabilize its political system; the republic is busy looking for an adequate model of political governance and territorial-administrative division; there is no flexible and effective electoral system acceptable to all.

Year after year, the Constitution acquires amendments and addenda which never resolve the political contradictions and merely add to the confusion.

For over twenty years now, Georgian politicians have been discussing and disagreeing about the new electoral systems and constitutional amendments and addenda; they prefer to call their disagreements nation-building. The republics citizens have become lost in a dense forest of legal formulas and political regulations.

In fact, these disagreements are the outcrop of a never-ending power struggle that does not allow the republic to stabilize its political system.

Traditions of Georgian Constitutionalism and the Quest for an Optimal Form of Governance

Georgia awakened to the need to limit executive power and increase the role of the parliament even before England acquired the Magna Carta in 1215. It was under the rule of Queen Tamar (the 12th century) that the Georgian aristocracy and commoners formulated the idea of a new branch of power, a Georgian parliament. K. Arslan, the leader of the 12th-century opposition, devised a two-chamber parliament:

1. Darbazi, one of the two chambers staffed with aristocracy and respected commoners, was expected to meet from time to time to discuss the situation and pass decisions: the decision execution belonged to the king.

2. Karavi was the chamber expected to function between the Darbazis sessions.

The idea was not realized either in the 12th century or later. Georgia acquired a functioning parliament in 1918-1921.

From the very first days of independence Georgia has been looking for the best form of state governance. The dilemma, however, remains unresolved: the public and the elite have not yet agreed either on a parliamentary or a presidential republic. This means that the traditions of Georgian constitutionalism are inseparable from the quest for the optimal form of governance.

Elected in October 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Georgia (the name inherited from the Soviet Union) amended the still valid Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia of 1978. It removed the words Soviet Socialist from the Constitution, while in November 1990 it passed a law on.


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