The ruling party in Georgia, Georgian Dream, has initiated impeachment proceedings against President Salome Zourabichvili, accusing her of violating the constitution by embarking on a foreign tour without the approval of the cabinet. Georgian Dream party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the president’s actions were unlawful and that impeaching her was the only option left for Members of Parliament (MPs). Zourabichvili, who was elected as an independent candidate, now faces potential removal from office.
Historically, Georgia has operated as a presidential republic, but subsequent amendments shifted executive power to the prime minister after the 2013 presidential election. As a result, the president’s role has become primarily ceremonial, with the ability to represent the country internationally only with the consent of the government, as stated in the current constitution.
Zourabichvili allegedly violated this provision when she traveled to Europe against the wishes of ministers. She met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday and intends to visit other European nations to support Georgia’s bid to join the European Union. However, the Georgian government denied her request to approve working visits to Germany, Ukraine, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, the UAE, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Israel.
The impeachment process poses a challenge for Georgian Dream, as the support of at least one-third of the parliament is required to bring the allegations before the Constitutional Court. If the court confirms the legitimacy of the case, a two-thirds majority vote would be necessary to remove Zourabichvili from office. Georgian Dream, along with its coalition partner People’s Power, currently has a combined total of 84 lawmakers in the 150-seat unicameral parliament.
Kobakhidze acknowledged that without the votes of the radical opposition, the impeachment proceedings would have no chance of success. The relationship between Zourabichvili and the Georgian government has deteriorated over the years, with one recent point of contention being Tbilisi’s gradual reconciliation with Moscow, including the resumption of air travel in May. The president criticized this decision as a provocation and even appeared to support the demonstrators who protested the first flight from Russia.
The impeachment of a president is a significant event in any country’s political landscape. In this case, it reflects the contentious relationship between Zourabichvili and the ruling party. The outcome of the impeachment proceedings will ultimately depend on the support of parliament members and potentially the radical opposition. It remains to be seen how the situation will unfold and what impact it will have on Georgia’s political landscape and international relations.