D E M O C R A C Y   I N D E X

Signs of political corruption in Parliament of Georgia
2021-01-26

The Georgian Parliament is hastily considering the draft bill submitted by the parliamentary majority, which contains risks of political corruption.[1] The majority is trying to create the illusion of having a strong opposition in the Parliament and reward with parliamentary positions the part of the opposition members who have abstained from the boycott and continued to work in the Parliament.

Political corruption is corruption in which political officials who adopt or enforce laws corresponding to their narrow partisan interests are involved.[2] One form of political corruption is the use of financial and material resources to maintain power, such as granting parliamentary positions and privileges to members of the opposition showing loyalty towards the government.[3]

According to the draft law, those members of the 10th Parliament not officially refusing the parliamentary seats[4] will be able to take on the positions of the Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament and Deputy Chairperson of a committee. According to the procedures in force, the opposition shall not be entitled to nominate or retain MPs for the announced parliamentary positions.[5]

Pursuant to the recommendation of the Venice Commission, the Parliament should operate with fair rules, by which the opposition will be involved in the process of appointing parliamentary officials.[6] This means a real strengthening of the opposition in the Parliament. However, the draft of the proposed amendments does not allow the opposition any genuine leverage that would strengthen the opposition, which is why the initiative should be deemed as the manipulation with the legislative norms. The key function of the Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament and the Deputy Chairperson of a Committee is to perform the duties of the Chairperson of the Parliament and his or her first deputy in case they are absent. Presently, all the positions of the Deputy Chairperson of Parliament and First Deputy Chairperson of the Committees are taken by members of the parliamentary majority.

With the proposed amendments, instead of strengthening the opposition in Parliament, individual members of the Parliament will receive only official benefits, such as:

- Increased salary (more than GEL 2,000 for a Vice-Speaker);

- The possibility to appoint employees in the staff based on administrative contracts (whose monthly salary is from 1 800 GEL to 3 500 GEL);

- Official vehicles (with an average of 5-7 tons of fuel per year);

Other position-related privileges.

As the positions do not entail any significant functions, the “Democracy Index – Georgia” urged the 9th Parliament to abolish them in September 2020 with the view to reducing budget expenditure.[7]

The aforementioned gives the impression that the parliamentary majority is trying to use state resources to reward a part of the opposition that accepts the majority’s call, refuse to give up their mandates and engage in parliamentary activities, yet this contains the signs of political corruption.[8] At the same time, a part of the opposition, which shares the call of the parliamentary majority, is willing to take parliamentary seats.[9] As a result, the parliamentary positions become the subject of political bargaining rather than the means for strengthening the parliamentary opposition, which seems like an attempt to bribe political forces to achieve their political loyalty and narrow party goals.

 

[1] See the website of the Parliament at the address: https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21232 [19:59 25.01.2021]

[2] Transparency International, Political Corruption, Topic Guide, 31 October 2014, page 4. Available at:

https://bit.ly/36dALTP  [21:52 25.01.2021]

[3] Political corruption, Inge Amundsen, CMI, 2006, page 7. Available at: https://bit.ly/2LUX7ml [22:10

25.01.2021]

[4] Members of Parliament at this stage are: Davit Zilfimiani, Fridon Injia, Avtandil Enukidze and Gela Mikadze.

[5] For more information see the statement of "Democracy Index - Georgia" - "Four opposition MPs cannot solve the problem of one-party Parliament." https://bit.ly/36epL8C  [22:34 25.01.2021]

[6] Venice Commission, On the Relationship Between the Parliamentary Majority and the Opposition in a Democracy, D. 1. How are the positions of responsibility allocated? CDL-AD(2019)015, §83-84.

[7] See the weekly column of the "Democracy Index - Georgia" in the TV program "Business Morning",

TV Company “Pirveli.” Available at https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyIndex/videos/687816111827945  [01:05 26.01.2021]

[8] “Irakli Kobakhidze, Leader of the parliamentary majority, assessed the entry of "European Socialists" in the Parliament as a sound event and called on other political parties to engage in the work of the parliament.” Interpressnews, “Irakli Kobakhidze - European Socialists got involved in the parliamentary work, which finally overthrew the “one-party parliament” scenario planned by the radical opposition.” https://bit.ly/3sYrRmM  [23:03 25.01.2021]

[9] Formula,”I wanted to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee.” - Zilfimiani explains why the rules of regulations are changed https://bit.ly/39YGcai