Constituent Assembly of Georgia
The Constituent Assembly of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს დამფუძნებელი კრება, sak’art’velos damp’udznebeli kreba) was a national legislature of the Democratic Republic of Georgia which was elected in February 1919 to ratify the Act of Independence of Georgia and enact the Constitution of 1921. The assembly remained active until the Soviet Russian military intervention brought Georgia’s three-year independence to an end in March 1921.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia seceded from Russia first as a part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic on April 9, 1918, and then as its own sovereign republic on May 26, 1918, the day when the Georgian National Council anonymously adopted the Act of Independence of Georgia. The Council declared itself provisional Parliament in October 1918 and began preparations for a nationwide legislative elections - the only general elections in pre-Soviet Georgia.
The Constituent Assembly was elected in the free and direct elections held from February 14 to 17 1919, to ratify the Act of Independence and adopt the republic’s constitution. The elections were contested by 15 political parties and the results were a triumph for the Social-Democratic Party (Mensheviks) and its leaders. Of the 130 seats in the Assembly, they obtained 109; the National Democratic Party of Georgia (NDP) took 8 seats, the Social-Federalist Party of Georgia (SFs) – 8 and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party of Georgia (SRs) – 5, forming the corresponding four factions and the two additional factions, those of the National Party and of the Dashnaktsutiun.
Nikolay Chkheidze, from the Social-Democratic Party, was elected president, Ekvtime Takhaishvili from the National Democratic Party of Georgia and Samson Pirtskhalava and Simon Mdivani, from the Social-Federalist Party of Georgia, vice-presidents.
During its two-year history, the Assembly adopted 126 laws, notably on citizenship, local elections, the country's defense, agriculture, legal system, political and administrative arrangements for ethnic minorities, a national system of public education, and some other laws and regulations on fiscal/monetary policy, the Georgian railways, trade and domestic production, etc. In July 1919, the Assembly set up a Senate whose members were to be elected by the nation’s legislative body to "supervise the observance and defense of laws and to ensure strict adherence to them by all organizations, persons, and local government organs." The Senate was essentially an appellate court but also had the power to revoke any government decision contrary to law and to deal with complaints against courts.
Preoccupied with uneasy foreign relations and domestic problems in the years of the Russian Civil War, the Georgian government was not able to fully implement in practice the progressive program laid out in the legislation. By early 1921, the Constituent Assembly had drafted Georgia’s first constitution, which was adopted already in the wake of the invasion by Soviet troops on February 21, 1921, when the battle was raging at the outskirts of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. On February 25, the Constituent Assembly evacuated Tbilisi first for Kutaisi, and finally for Batumi where it held its last meeting on March 21, 1921, ordering the government of the republic to leave the country. On March 24, 1921, the Revolutionary committee of Georgia – a provisional administration set up by the victorious Bolsheviks – declared the Assembly dissolved.
- Nohlen, Dieter; Grotz, Florian & Hartmann, Christof (2001), Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook, pp. 372-4. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-924958-X.
- (in Georgian) The Constituent Assembly, 1919-21. Parliament of Georgia.
- David Losaberidze (1998), The Problem of Nationalism in Georgia, pp. 5-6. The NATO Research Fellowships Program.
- Christopher Peter, Michael Waters (2004), Counsel in the Caucasus: Professionalization and Law in Georgia, pp. 36-7. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, ISBN 90-04-13947-8.
- (in Georgian) Collection of legal acts adopted by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, 1919-21. Regional Research Center.