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For the opposition, slow and steady wins the race

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, April 4
Georgia's parliamentary elections are scheduled for October. Now, six months in advance of the vote, the ruling United National Movement (UNM) is actively campaigning for re-election, while the opposition is moving slowly, if at all.

Officially, the election date has not been set, so it is understandable if the opposition is waiting for that announcement. As for the administration, with the appearance of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili on the political scene, it makes sense for them to get a jump on campaigning (and even panic a little). They have done so by campaigning through legislation drafting laws that have been used to target and cripple Ivanishvili's ambitions. The activity of the UNM has been so energetic, that it even gave lie to rumors about snap electi0ns.

Another reason why the opposition appears to be moving slowly could be Ivanishvili's lack of Georgian citizenship. A mere six months after the businessman declared his intention to enter politics he has created a party (Georgian Dream) and a coalition to go with it. Yet the government has so far refused to make a decision on the restoration of his citizenship, ultimately consigning Ivanishvili to a holding pattern. The administration is expected to make a decision by this Thursday, but some analysts are pessimistic about the results. Without citizenship, Ivanishvili is unable to personally take part in the elections, or the campaign a major boon to the spooked UNM.

In the meantime, the members of the opposition left out of Georgian Dream are spinning their wheels. Some, like the Christian Democrats, talk unconvincingly of creating a third political force in Georgia. Others, like the non-parliamentary parties, are merely focused on returning to active political life. While it is in the entire opposition's best interests to unite, there is little chance of that. All sides may agree that they want free and fair elections, but some opposition members are willing to engage in street rallies and protests to get them; others, like Ivanishvili, do not support that kind of action.

Right now, it appears as though the UNM is headed for another parliamentary majority. This would suggest that the opposition should begin its campaign as early as possible, and push its message as often as it can, as it has much work to do between now and October. But it's possible that Ivanishvili and his counterparts have a different approach hasten slowly.