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Will Governors be elected?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, October 26
At the opening session of the parliament on October 21 President Saakashvili aired the proposal that mayors of big cities as well as district governors should be directly elected. The president explained that the decision was aimed at decentralizing the government. However, the decision to elect governors has been met with mixed reactions.

Opponents to this idea say that the former ruling United National Movement party had almost 9 years to propose such a novelty but nothing of the kind took place. On the contrary, the president actively exercised his right to directly appoint governors in different districts, thus creating a centralized system. Such a policy was a continuation of Soviet tradition of autocracy, as analyst David Zardiashvili said in his interview with Sakartvelos Respublika. Some analysts suspect that this is an attempt by the UNM to maintain whatever support it still retains in the regions.

After the UNM failed to win the Parliamentary elections, Saakashvili immediately appointed governors in three districts: Samegrelo Zemo Svaneti, Imereti and Kakheti. According to the Georgian Constitution, just one year from now the right to appoint district governors will be transferred to the Prime Minister. This amendment was introduced in the constitution, which was tailored by Saakashvili so that he could become PM after his 2nd term as president. It became obvious that Saakashvili does not want to easily give up his power and does not want new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to possess this lever.

Very few doubt that some changes should be introduced; however many analysts suggest that Saakashvili's proposed version of changes is grounded in his desire to take revenge and return to power by any means possible. Consequently, the president hopes the reforms will be implemented quickly - while he still holds a degree of power. This can be viewed as a gamble but as many analysts suggest, Saakashvili is currently the looser and it is unlikely that these changes will take place because it would require yet another constitutional amendment. Moreover, there is little chance that this initiative will be put on the agenda; the Parliament has many more important issues to discuss. Nevertheless, the system of self governance of the country needs to be modified. There are many issues that still need to be determined, the distribution of competencies, different levels of governance, rights, duties, responsibilities and powers, etc. Therefore, this president's new initiative seems dead on arrival.