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Back to the beginning

Friday, November 14
The grave present situation in the country and its pre-existing problems have probably triggered new speculations about establishing a Constitutional Monarchy in Georgia. The political course the country has adopted seems to have discredited itself. The population expresses frustration over different things: the ruling authorities, the opposition, foreign policy failures, the lost territories, economic crises, etcetera, etcetera – the list is practically endless.

Different factors have created dissatisfaction with the country’s leadership: the lost war, unfulfilled promises, dire socio-economic conditions, human rights abuses, etc. The opposition’s shortcomings are: internal conflicts and lack of unity, the absence of a convincing action plan, background collaboration with the authorities, the lack of a distinguished leader. These factors taken together form the major reasons for the disaffection with politicians of all shades. The biggest blow, however, is the fact that when Russia attacked Georgia because of its openly-declared Western orientation the West did not show enough guts to resist and punish the aggressor. What is the point of supporting any politician if the country has no real friends anyway?

Despite its aggressive PR campaigns the approval rating of the existing administration is falling, but approval of the opposition is not growing at the same speed. On the contrary, the opposition is now less supported. The only place of comfort people can now see is the Georgian Orthodox Church, as represented by its leader Ilia II. He is the most trusted and respected person in today’s Georgia, and the most respected Georgian figure outside the country. The Patriarch and his clergy have shown themselves brave and worthy shepherds of their flock, unlike some public officials. The rescue of prisoners of war, the recovery of the bodies of dead solders, humanitarian relief operations and many other actions undertaken by the Church have strengthened people’s confidence in the Church and its leader, who in spite of his age has demonstrated personal courage. Most people now look to the Church to provide answers to their political problems although the Church is above politics.

Last November Ilia II himself supported the idea of a constitutional monarchy, although the introduction of this system would be a long and carefully thought out process. There are many ways of achieving this. Patriarch Ilia suggested a member of the Bagrationi family. Alternatively a possible candidate could be selected and trained for the role from early childhood by a council of regents headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch himself, as suggested by Rezo Chkheidze, the famous Georgian film director. The idea of a constitutional monarchy has supporters, but also opponents. Some think that such a system is obsolete and out of date, and could create an even bigger mess in the country. A monarchy implies an aristocracy, which might demand special treatment and privileges for itself. Monarchy is also said to put an extra burden on a country’s economy. The new king might decide to personally interfere in decision making, unlike existing European monarchs. But Georgia needs to ask itself why these arguments are even being thrashed out.

The discussions about constitutional monarchy are not abstract arguments about political theory. They are the measured response of the population to the circumstances they find themselves in. Not knowing what to do next, they seek guidance in models from the past rather than contemporary ones. In its Golden Age Georgia was a monarchy, and by discussing constitutional monarchy Georgia is seeking to go back to the beginning.

Is this the solution?