The number of initiatives of factions in municipal councils of Adjara decreases
In 2017-2018, number of factions and submitted initiatives in the municipal councils (Sakrebulos) of Batumi, Keda, Kobuleti, Khelvachauri, Khulo, and Shuakhevi in Adjara has decreased compared to the data of 2014-2016. In addition, the majority of submitted initiatives mostly dealt with the issues of administrative importance rather than with the issues regarding the improvement of municipal services and strengthening of control over the work of executive self-governmental bodies.
The present study of the factions of the municipal councils covers the period from November 2017 to February 2019.
Our organization also published a similar research in 2016. Additional goal of the present study is to compare the data derived from 2014-2016 to the data of 2017-2018.
The study has revealed the following circumstances:
Compared with the reporting period of 2014-2016, in 2017-2018, the number of factions and submitted initiatives has decreased significantly: in 2014-2016, 35 factions were functioning, while in 2017-2018 their number reduced to 291; the number of initiatives also shrunk from 38 to 33.
In the reporting period 16 factions registered in the municipal councils of Khelvachauri, Khulo, and Shuakhevi didn’t submit a single initiative, while 25 initiatives were submitted in the City Council of Batumi, 6 – in the Town Council of Keda, and 2 – in the City Council of Kobuleti.
14 out of 33 initiatives were submitted by opposition factions. The rate of approval of opposition factions’ initiatives is low – only one initiative was supported by the majority of the Town Council of Keda.
The decrease in the number of submitted initiatives is particularly noteworthy as in accordance with the amendments to the legislation, from December 2017 the position of deputy chairperson of a faction also became remunerative. One of the arguments of the lawmakers who initiated the amendments was that the change would be followed by the increased productivity of factions, though, as shown by the present study, this expectation has not come true.
Expenses incurred on the remuneration of faction members and number of submitted initiatives
During the reporting period of 2017-2018, a total of GEL 1,394,635.23 was spent on the salaries of the office holders (chairpersons and deputy chairpersons) of factions.
Out of 29 factions, initiatives were submitted by 2 factions of the City Council of Batumi (Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia and the United National Movement), 1 faction of the Town Council of Keda (United National Movement), and 1 faction of the City Council of Kobuleti (Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia).
The factions of the City Council of Batumi submitted the highest number of initiatives among the municipalities of Adjara. This figure has increased compared with the corresponding figure of 2014-2016 – the factions of the City Council elected in 2014 submitted 16 initiatives, while those of the City Council elected in 2017 submitted 25 initiatives.
The Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia faction submitted 1 individual and 16 joint initiatives. Most of the initiatives dealt with administrative issues: the faction brought up an initiative of transforming the road from the end of Lech and Maria Kaczyński Street to the Airport Highway in Batumi into a street and naming it after Giorgi Antsukhelidze. In addition, the faction and the City Council’s Commission on Issues of Education, Culture, Tourism and Sport jointly brought up 3 similar initiatives: several land plots on Ivane Javakhishvili Street were given the name of Ivane Javakhishvili Square, the name of May 6 Park was changed into the city’s Central Park, while the session hall of the City Council was named after Luka Asatiani, the city’s first elected mayor.
In addition, the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia faction submitted an initiative on the approval of the Action Plan of the Gender Equality Council of Batumi for 2019-2020.
The United National Movement faction had 8 initiatives.
Seven of the initiatives were submitted by the chairperson of the faction, Mirdat Kamadadze. These initiatives dealt with amendments to the budget of the Batumi Municipality of 2018, social programs, increase of kindergarten teachers salaries, the draft appeal related to the murder of Archil Tatunashvili, an incident that took place in Tsikhisdziri at the time of transportation of trees from Adjara, and naming of streets. One more initiative of the faction dealt with naming a street in Batumi after French writers – Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo or Honoré de Balzac.
All the initiatives of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia faction were approved by the majority of the City Council, but the majority didn’t approve any of the initiatives submitted by the United National Movement faction. The same happened in 2014-2016 when the majority of the City Council didn’t approve a single initiative of an opposition faction.
Out of the 4 factions, only the United National Movement has registered initiatives. Only 1 out of 6 initiatives submitted – in which the faction demanded that the Town Council sends an appeal to the Supreme Council of Adjara regarding the mining of inert materials in the territory of the Keda Municipality – was approved.
The initiatives that were not approved dealt with the distribution of firewood to the schools and socially vulnerable families of Keda, the transfer of residential apartments into the ownership of factual owners in the village of Kveda Makhuntseti, increase of teachers’ salaries in the Association of Nurseries and Kindergartens of Keda by at least GEL 100, and other issues.
On December 28, 2018, the City Council of Kobuleti adopted 2 initiatives submitted by the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia faction: the first initiative concerned the implementation of the Civic Consciousness Program, while the second one dealt with the establishment of scholarships bearing the names of the historian Davit Khakhutaishvili and the academician Nino Javakhishvili for students with academic achievements.
Since the elections of 2017, 6 factions have been created in the Town Council of Khelvachauri: Hope for the Future, the United National Movement – Christian Conservatives, the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream – Conservatives, and the Georgian Dream – Industrialists. Compared with the reporting period of 2014-2016, during which the Town Council of Khelvachauri adopted 2 out of 5 initiatives, in 2018 the factions didn’t register any initiatives.
Since the self-government elections of 2017, 6 factions have been registered in Khulo: the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream – Conservatives, the United National Movement – Christian Conservatives, the Georgian Dream – Industrialists, and the European Georgia – Movement for Freedom. Similarly to the reporting period of 2014-2016, the factions didn’t submit any initiatives in 2017-2018 either.
Four factions are functioning in the Town Council of Shuakhevi: the Georgian Dream, the Georgian Dream – Conservatives, the Georgian Dream – Industrialists, and the United National Movement. Similarly to the period after the local self-government elections of 2014, the factions have also failed to submit initiatives in the period since 2017 elections.
Fuel expenses incurred by factions
The office holders of the factions in the municipal councils of Keda, Khulo, Khelvachauri, Kobuleti, and Shuakhevi do not use the service of official vehicles. Only the City Council of Batumi has purchased fuel for factions.
Expenses incurred by factions on telephone communication and business trips
Conclusion and recommendations
The study has demonstrated that the amendments of 2017, which made the position of deputy chairperson of a faction remunerative and, as assumed by members of the majority of the Parliament, were supposed to be followed by increased productivity of factions, have not yielded positive results. On the contrary, the number of initiatives submitted by factions has decreased, which is clearly a negative trend.
We can also give a negative assessment to the fact that the majority of the initiatives submitted are mostly focused on issues related to administration instead of demanding the improvement of municipal services and strengthening of control over the work of executive self-governmental bodies.
In addition, the rate of approval of opposition factions’ initiatives by the current majority of the municipal councils is extremely low. Such trend creates an unfavorable environment for strengthening local democracy and for creating the practice of cooperation among political forces.
It is important that the activity of factions are beneficial for the self-governmental bodies and that it is oriented at improving the availability and quality of municipal services. Factions are an important component for increasing the degree of citizens’ involvement in self-government, for supporting local initiatives, and for resolving citizens’ problems. Therefore, we call on the factions to make an active use of these instruments.
1At one of the sessions of the City Council of Batumi on May 31, 2019, the Georgian Dream – Industrialists faction, which consisted of three members, was declared as dissolved, as one member left the faction.