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Authorities and Opposition blame each other for deadlocked election talks

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 28
The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), New Generation New Initiative (nGnI) and Transparency International – Georgia (TI)-called on political parties to continue talks on the electoral system reform and to make decisions “in a timely manner” to leave enough time to prepare for 2012 parliamentary elections, on March 25.

“We believe that it is important for the ECWG to continue working on the election legislation and reach agreement on the issues which are important for the improvement of the election environment,” the groups said referring to Election Code Working Group (ECWG) – a negotiating format involving the ruling National Movement and opposition parties.

They identified four key issues, which the parties involved in the talks should focus on; these are: electoral systems (on this issue rule of electing majoritarian MPs remains the most serious source of contention); composition of the election administration; pre-election campaign (including, among others, issues related to use of administrative resources); finding effective mechanisms for dispute resolution.

The opposition's future plans are still focused on improving the election environment in the country, despite several times derange of the meeting with majority representatives, and “our aim is to replace the current authorities by means of elections for the first time in our history. For this, a new election code is necessary, thus consultations with the authorities should be completed successfully. Representatives of the United States and European Union support us in this field, “leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania stated while his visit to Brussels, on March 27.

We have not stopped the process, as soon as the authorities respond to our suggestions, we will be ready to sit around the negotiations table, Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party, said, “we have moved into a new phase, we will open a serious front inside and outside the country, so as many people as possible are aware of the process.”

As analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, there is a serious inner political elite crisis in the country, “the fact that this process is useless is due to several factors. First of all, putting its own interests above the national interest is the nature of the current authorities, it always tries to underline its superiority, herewith there is a significant number of people who are against the present Government, thus holding free elections is not in the authorities' interests, “ the analyst stated and also assessed the opposition’s role in the process, “ I feel sorry for the present opposition as it is labeled as politically impotent. They have no resourses to ensure public trust and they are just making noise and nothing more. On the one hand they are blaming society that they are inert regarding the issue and on the other hand are appealing to the international community. Thus, both sides, meaning the authorities and opposition are mainly engaged in shifting their problems on others, which indicates a serious inner political elite problem in Georgia. “