Georgia's Constitutional Court has declared that President Salome Zurabishvili violated the country's constitution by travelling to EU countries without government consent.
The court's decision, reached with the support of six out of nine judges, confirms the grounds for President Zurabishvili's impeachment by parliament.
While the Georgian Dream party could theoretically proceed with the impeachment process, they lack the number of votes to reach the 100-deputy threshold needed for successful impeachment. There are currently 84 deputies in the Georgian Dream's joint parliamentary majority, 16 votes short of what is needed.
The basis for this impeachment procedure stems from President Zurabishvili's visit to Germany, France, and Belgium in early September to meet with European leaders and discuss Georgia's European integration prospects. The Georgian Dream party claims that the President overstepped her authority by engaging in foreign relations without government approval.
While President Zurabishvili strongly defends her actions, the Constitutional Court's conclusion is final and cannot be appealed. According to Article 52 of Georgia's Constitution, the President can only exercise representative powers in foreign relations, including negotiations, international agreements, and ambassador accreditation, with the government's consent. Her actions were deemed a breach of the Constitution, posing a threat to the separation of powers and the parliamentary system.
President Zurabishvili's fate now lies in the hands of the Georgian Parliament, which must vote on whether to proceed with her impeachment. Parliament will most probably consider the matter this week.
In the first televised address after the court’s decision, the President said she has no intention of resigning and indicated her intention to attend the parliamentary hearings, emphasising that she will deal with the “little men” herself.
“A country where there is no balance between branches cannot be considered a democratic country”, she said, calling the opposition to stand against the impeachment.
The opposition has denounced the impeachment process, describing it as an attempt to sabotage Georgia's European integration.
Salome Zurabishvili was elected with substantial assistance and support from the ruling Georgian Dream Party, including its founder, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. However, she and the Georgian Dream parted ways after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with Zurabishvili adopting firmly pro-Western positions, while the Georgian Dream party began to foster closer relations with Russia.
Zurabishvili is the last elected president of Georgia, and her term expires at the end of the next year. If she is impeached, her successor will be chosen by a 300-member electoral college.