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Ruling party’s political games do no one any favors

Thursday, February 21
The ruling National Movement is accusing the opposition of blocking a constitutional amendment to reschedule parliamentary elections for spring, impeding the will of an electorate which overwhelmingly opted for the earlier elections in a January plebiscite.

Without the support of opposition MPs, ruling party representatives insist, they are three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass that amendment and others they’ve committed to. Somehow, voters are to believe that a government which has scrawled all over the constitution in the past four years has, without an election, shed enough lawmakers to lose its dominance of parliament.

But the numbers don’t add up—or, more to the point, they do. In its public headcount, the ruling party is leaving out a faction of 12 majoritarian MPs who supported the 2006 amendments, plus a smattering of independent lawmakers with arms to twist. If they want to pass these amendments without the opposition, they can.

Instead, they are playing games on the taxpayers’ tetri. Such arrogance is hardly unique to Georgian politics, but that makes it no more palatable.

Nor is it politically advisable. This government gave life to the opposition by spurning cooperation and compromise, and wielding a mocking condescension toward voters and political opponents alike. Vakhtang Balavadze, secretary of the parliamentary majority faction, provides an ideal example of counterproductive arrogance.

After researching today’s cover story, a reporter for this paper asked Balavadze why the National Movement would schedule a hearing on the amendments before ensuring it had the votes, a precaution taken for more than a dozen other constitutional changes it has rammed through. In response, he asked the reporter her age. Balavadze, who is 29, then proceeded to slowly explain the arithmetic involved.

A more mature politician should slowly explain to Balavadze that politicians’ arrogance is a big part of why the National Movement is likely to genuinely lose its constitutional majority in the next parliamentary elections.