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What will rise to the top?

Monday, September 22
The current agenda of Georgian politics revolves around three major issues: investigating the August events, carrying out democratic reforms and conducting snap Presidential and Parliamentary (or at least one) elections. The emergence of consensus or confrontation over these issues determines very much the character of the country’s development.

An evaluation of the August war and the Russian occupation of Georgia is the imperative demand of not only the political opposition but society as a whole. The expected outcome of this investigation is major changes in the Executive. Possibly the country’s leadership will resign, but it may actually be strengthened. If its arguments are convincing, the investigation may actually confirm it in power.

The present administration insists there is nothing to investigate. It is ready to create a Reporting Group, which it will constitute itself, thinking this is sufficient, but not a Commission. A Parliamentary Investigation Commission would be powerful enough to find the answers to the questions people want to know without being subject to interference, but this it seems is exactly what the administration does not want.

President Saakashvili promised during his annual report to Parliament appearance that he would introduce a new Wave of Democratic Reforms, something long demanded by the opposition. Most opposition figures however think that this promise is a PR stunt rather than an honest commitment to implement in-depth democratic changes in reality. The leader of the opposition Republican Party, David Usupashvili, has pointed out that the President started talking about democracy only after he had received recommendations from NATO leaders during the September 15-16 Tbilisi meeting.

The major demands of the various opposition groups are a free media, a new election code and a change in the election commission leadership. Some also insist on snap Presidential and Parliamentary elections, though the ruling administration calls this ‘playing the Russian game.’ Others think that Parliamentary elections alone would be enough, as they believe a new Parliament would better control the President and this would not be acting in the interests of the Kremlin. The authorities however are unwilling to even consider such scenarios, at least for the time being.

It looks as if the elections issue, whether we have them and on what terms, will become the most serious as time goes on, and might create serious controversies in the near future, which may or may not benefit the ruling administration.