Opposition lawmakers on October 23 launched formal proceedings aimed at amending the constitution to allow for parliamentary elections in spring, instead of late 2008.
The move, entailing the collection of signatures from at least 112 lawmakers, is designed to have a draft amendment considered by Parliament.
As the combined opposition strength is less than 40 lawmakers in the parliament, it is unlikely that the required number of signatures will be collected.
The proposed draft amendment reads: “The next parliamentary elections shall be held within 15 days before the expiration of the sitting Parliament’s term in office. The date of elections is decided by the President of Georgia 60 days prior to the elections.”
There is, however, confusion surrounding when the parliamentary term ends. Some lawmakers were elected through a proportional party list on March 28, 2004, and their terms in office are due to expire in spring 2008. Others were elected through a majoritarian system on November 2, 2003, and as a result their terms expire this November.
Last December, Parliament passed amendments to the constitution according to which simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections will be held sometime between October and December 2008. This amendment has prolonged the sitting Parliament’s life (at least of those lawmakers who were elected through the party list system) by at least six months and has also cut President Saakashvili’s first term in office by between three to six months.