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Opposition shuffling the deck

By Messenger staff
Thursday, November 20
The opposition has begun an intensive reshuffling process. Many statements are being made about who is now with whom and who might be joining whom.

Usually such activities take place before elections. No elections are due in the near future, but there is a certain fuss in political circles, an anticipation of inevitable changes.

The administration behaves as if nothing extraordinary has happened in Georgia. The country has responded to the Russian aggression, everything is alright, and any confrontation within Georgia therefore undermines our national interests, it says. The opposition thinks otherwise. The days of the ruling party are numbered, a change of leadership is inevitable, snap Presidential and/or Parliamentary elections are therefore a must, the election code must be changed, and this can only be achieved through permanent protest rallies and pressure from the West, it says. Therefore it realigns its forces and positions, each group hoping to take the greatest advantage of what it believes will happen.

Most probably it will not become possible to unite the whole opposition against the existing leadership. This did not happen even last year, when more or less everybody came together to oppose the Saakashvili National Movement. “Eclectic unity showed itself forceless” thinks one of the New Rights leaders Pikria Chikhradze.

Last year’s unity was ill-founded because certain political figures joined it but very soon left and starting openly cooperating with the ruling party, it is believed in opposition circles. However there is another reason: each individual party leader thinks he alone is the saviour of the country. The priority of each is to prove himself “the true opposition,” and therefore the opposition parties snatch votes from each other rather than from the ruling party, as those who still support this in the face of mass opposition activity are less likely to be persuaded to change their allegiance.

No doubt the August defeat seriously undermined the position of the Rose Revolution Administration but the opposition itself forfeited the trust and confidence the people had given it due to lack of unity. However, it has proven problematic for the opposition to produce one distinguished leader. Last year it was Levan Gachechiladze, who more or less suited every opposition party as he had no one party behind him and no Super Star ambition. On the contrary, he openly stated that if he became President he would abolish the Presidency and establish a Parliamentary Republic. But he lost and there is very little chance he will be raised up as a leader again. Indeed some opposition leaders, such as Koba Davitashvili, think it is not necessary to have a leader at all, a model adopted by Green parties all over Europe, sometimes successfully.

Currently there are speculations about the grouping together of two or three parties in a formal alliance. Probable matches are: Republicans and New Rights, National Democrats and Christian Democrats, National Forum and Traditionalists, etc., but nothing has been formally decided as yet. There is also talk about the formation of new political parties. The most intriguing is the one created by the former Chair of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, whose formal establishment is scheduled for November 23 (the fifth anniversary of the Rose Revolution). Burjanadze was, together with Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania, one of three pillars of the Rose Revolution Architecture. Zhvania is dead, Burjanadze in opposition. Can Saakashvili alone keep the building up, or will it collapse? How it collapses, and when, assuming it does, is what will ultimately decide which of the opposition forces is best equipped to move into Government. Only then will we know who has the answers to the questions the collapse will raise.