ISFED believes that the Constitution of Georgia does not prohibit the right of holders of dual citizenship to run for office as presidential candidates.
We believe that applicable Constitutional provisions are somehow ambiguous; however, based on their cumulative and complex rather than fragmented interpretation we believe that by refusing to register holders of dual citizenship as presidential candidates, the CEC chairperson wrongfully interpreted the Constitution due to the following reasons:
First, we should differentiate between the right of holders of dual citizenship to run for office, i.e. the right to be a candidate, and their right to hold high political offices.
Para.11, Article 29 of the Constitution cited by the CEC as grounds stipulates that office of the president of Georgia may not be held by a citizen of Georgia who is also a foreign citizen. We believe that the foregoing provision prohibits holders of dual citizenship from holding the office of the president but it does not prohibit them from running for office in presidential elections.
According to the para.2, Article 70 of the Constitution “A citizen of Georgia, with the right to vote, who has attained the age of 35, has lived in Georgia for at least five years, and lived in Georgia for last three years prior to the day of announcing elections may be elected the President of Georgia.” It allows citizen of Georgia to be elected as president. Article 71 of the Constitution differentiates between being “elected as president” and “holding the office of president”, which occurs after taking an oath of office. Therefore, we believe that based on para.2, Article 70 of the Constitution, any citizen of Georgia including holders of dual citizenship have the right to be elected as president. However, para.”e”, Article 29 of the Constitution prohibits him/her from holding the office of president until s/he abandons foreign citizenship.
Therefore, we believe that resolutions of the CEC chairperson to reject applications of holders of dual citizenship for registration as presidential candidates conflicts with the Constitutional provisions.
At the same time, among holders of dual citizenship we should also differentiate between EU citizens and non-EU citizens and their right to hold the office of president.
Pursuant to Article 1044 of the Constitution of Georgia, “until January 1, 2014, together with citizens of Georgia, persons who have reached the age of eligibility, were born and have been living permanently in Georgia for the last five years and are holding the citizenship of an EU-member state at the time of enactment of the present Article, shall have the right to run for office and vote in parliamentary and presidential elections.” Further, the Article also stipulates that the prohibition to hold the office of president envisaged by para.2, Article 29 of the Constitution does not apply to citizens of EU member states.
In this light, ISFED believes that
• Holders of dual citizenship have the right to run for office in presidential elections;
• In case of winning the elections, holder of dual citizenship who is a citizen of Georgia and a citizen of an EU-member state (an meets requirements related to age and residence) has the right to hold the office of president by January 1, 2014;
• In case of winning the elections, holder of dual citizenship who is a citizen of Georgia and a citizen of a non-EU member state has the right to hold the office of president if s/he abandons foreign citizenship before taking an oath of office.