The Parliament of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს პარლამენტი, sakartvelos p'arlament'i) is the supreme legislature of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, from which 77 members are proportional representatives and 73 are elected through single-member district plurality system, representing their constituencies. All members of the Parliament are elected for four years on the basis of universal human suffrage. Since May 2012 the Parliament meets at the new Parliament Building in Kutaisi.
The idea of limiting royal power and creating a parliamentary-type body of government was conceived among the aristocrats and citizens in the 12th century Kingdom of Georgia, during the reign of Queen Tamar, the first Georgian female monarch.
In the view Queen Tamar's oppositionists and their leader, Qutlu Arslan (a Georgian Simon de Montfort), the first Georgian Parliament was to be formed of two "Chambers": a) Darbazi – or assembly of aristocrats and influential citizens who would meet from time to time to take decisions on the processes occurring in the country, the implementation of these decisions devolving on the monarch b) Karavi – a body in permanent session between the meetings of the Darbazi. The confrontation ended in the victory of the supporters of unlimited royal power. Qutlu Arslan was arrested on the Queen’s order.
Subsequently, it was only in 1906 that the Georgians were afforded the opportunity of sending their representatives to a Parliamentary body of Government, to the Second State Duma (from 1801 Georgia had been incorporated in the Russian Empire). Georgian deputies to the Duma were Noe Zhordania (later the President of independent Georgia in 1918-21), Ilia Chavchavadze (founder of the Georgian National Movement), Irakli Tsereteli (leader of the Social-Democratic Faction in the Second Duma, later Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia’s Provisional Government), Karlo Chkheidze (leader of the Menshevik Faction in the Fourth State Duma, Chairman of the first convocation of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in 1917, and Chairman of the Trans-Caucasian Seym in 1918), and others.
In 1918 the first Georgian National Parliament was founded in the already independent Georgia. In 1921 the Parliament adopted the first Georgian Constitution. However, shortly after the adoption of the Constitution, Georgia was occupied by the Bolshevik Red Army. This was followed by a gap of 69 years in the Parliamentary Government in Georgian history. The construction of the parliament building started in 1938 and completed in 1953, when Georgia was still a part of Soviet Union. It was designed by architects Victor Kokorin and Giorgi Lezhava.
The first multiparty Elections in the Soviet Union were held in Georgia on October 28, 1990. The elected Supreme Soviet (the name of the simulated and pseudo-Parliament in the former Soviet Union) proclaimed the independence of Georgia. On May 26, 1991 Georgia’s population elected the Chairman of the Supreme Council Zviad Gamsakhurdia as President of the country.
The tension between the ruling and opposition parties gradually intensified, which in 1991-92 developed into an armed conflict. The President left the country, the Supreme Soviet ceased to function and power was taken over by the Military Council.
In 1992, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Soviet Union Eduard Shevardnadze returned to Georgia, assuming Chairmanship of the Military Council which was reconstituted into a State Security Council. The State Council restored Georgia’s Constitution of 1921, announcing August 4, 1992 as the day of parliamentary elections.
In 1995, the newly elected Parliament adopted a new Constitution. Georgia now has a semi-presidential system with a unicameral parliament. In 2011 Mikheil Saakashvili the president of Georgia signed the amendment of constitution which located the parliament in the western city of Kutaisi.
On 26 May 2012, Saakashvili inaugurated the new Parliament building in Kutaisi. This was done in an effort to decentralise power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia, although it has been criticised as marginalising the legislature, and also for the demolition of a Soviet War Memorial formerly at the new building's location.
The Georgian Parliament is the country’s Supreme representative body which effects legislative authority, determines the main directions of the country’s home and foreign policy, controls the activity of the Government within limits defined by the Constitution and exercises other rights.
The Parliament is chaired by its speaker. Zurab Zhvania held the post of speaker from November 1995 until he broke with then-President Eduard Shevardnadze and resigned from the post on November 1, 2001. At the close of a "marathon" session, Nino Burjanadze was elected speaker on November 10, 2001. She was the speaker until the parliament elected in 2008 convened, as she had chosen not to run in the 2008 parliamentary elections. Davit Bakradze, who headed the ruling National Movement's party list in the 2008 parliamentary elections, was elected Speaker of the 2008 parliament. After 2016 parliamentary election, David Usupashvili was replaced by Irakli Kobakhidze.
According to the Constitution, a Parliamentary committee, a Parliamentary faction, a member of the parliament, the supreme representative bodies of Abkhazia and Ajaria, or not less than 30,000 electors have the right to initiate legislation.
Parliamentary committees and the President are the chief initiators of legislative proposals in Georgia . A draft law, prepared on the committee or received through legislative initiative, is discussed at a meeting of the relevant committee. The draft, with the view of the committee or explanatory note attached, is passed on to other Parliamentary committees and factions. It is published in the "Parliamentary Reports", a special issue of the Parliament.
Before the committee decides to submit the draft law to the plenary session it arranges a committee reading. The reading is conducted in public. Information about the committee reading is disseminated through the mass media by the Parliamentary Press-Center, at least 7 days in advance. If the committee decides that the draft is ready for discussion at the plenary meeting, it is passed on to the Staff of the Parliament. The latter sees to it that the draft is put on the agenda of the Bureau. When the draft is initiated by the President of Georgia, the supreme representative bodies of Abkhazia and Ajaria, or a constituency, the Parliamentary Bureau refers the draft to the relevant committee.
The Parliament considers the draft law in three readings.
First reading - At the first reading of the draft its general principles and main propositions are discussed. If the draft passes the first reading, it is sent to the relevant committee (committees), with all the remarks to be taken into consideration.
Second reading - The draft - revised and discussed with account of the remarks made by the Parliament - is submitted to a Parliamentary session for the second reading. At the second reading the draft is discussed by sections, chapters, clauses or parts of clauses, each being put to the vote.
Third reading - For the third reading the members of Parliament are supplied with versions of the draft. They may introduce only editorial remarks, after which the draft law, passed by the Parliament, is submitted to the President of Georgia, who signs it into law and has it published. The law is published in an official organ, entering into force on the 15th day from publication, unless some other term is indicated in the law.
Period of sessions
The Parliament meets twice a year: for the spring and autumn sessions. The spring session opens on the first Tuesday of February and closes on the last Friday of June. The autumn session opens on the first Tuesday of September and closes on the third Friday of December.
The Parliamentary session is planned for a fortnightly cycle, made up of plenary and committee sittings. The first week is given to plenary sessions, while the second to committee work and meeting with constituencies.
The government, during the building's construction, promoted it as a symbol of Georgia's bright, democratic future. Its location in Kutaisi was touted as a boost for the regional economy there as well as a way to knit the country closer together. Critics state that the building is a waste of money, and that having Parliament in Kutaisi, while the rest of the government remains in Tbilisi, is inefficient.
The building is in the form of a 100-metre (330 ft) by 150-metre (490 ft) oval-shaped glass dome.