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Is there a way out of the crisis?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 1
The chronic confrontation between the administration and the non-Parliamentary opposition is the reflection of a deep political crisis in the country. Or maybe the crisis is one of trust rather than politics.

Political analysts are offering a multitude of opinions, suggesting different ways of resolving the crisis. There are several different scenarios of possible developments. Which of these is the best and is there a way of making things happen that way? It is difficult to answer this question. Broadly speaking there are three major options: a new revolution led by the opposition, the suppression of the protest rallies by the administration and dialogue, which is much speculated about but which has not taken place so far.

Revolution is being openly or discreetly speculated about because the protests have become continual. A revolution would unconditionally remove the Government and the whole administration, impose the rule of the victorious side and try to create a new order and legal arrangement. The supporters of this say that if Saakashvili could do it in 2003, why can’t they today? The number of protestors in the streets in these last weeks has been as greater or greater than then. The opposition can also mobilize at least the same number of people from the regions, and many of the same people who took part in the Rose Revolution alongside Saakashvili are now in the opposition. Some of them could be labeled ‘professional revolutionaries’, and as such they have the requisite experience to undertake that sort of action.

As no revolution, anywhere, at any time whatsoever, has brought prosperity to the people (we consider the American Revolution to have been a fight of the first settlers against British invaders) this idea should be seen as characteristic of a post-revolutionary situation, but should be abandoned if either side really cares for the country. There are some other arguments against revolution, which mostly revolve around the fact that the opposition does not have a charismatic leader such as Saakashvili was in 2003. It is unlikely that such a leader will appear in the near future. A leader with obsession, willingness to take risks, determination and commitment is not visible in the opposition spectrum. Furthermore although Saakashvili’s rating has diminished dramatically, he is not in the situation former President Shevardnadze was in before the Rose Revolution. He has few supporters but there are still some, whose support for him is based less on his ideology than their material welfare. Law enforcement bodies now pay good salaries, many social benefits and so on. Before the Rose Revolution people were fed up with the figure of Shevardnadze as such, as he had been the leader of Georgia as Communist Party boss and then head of the independent state for 31 years. People did not want him. And as soon as people saw a charismatic leader, they followed him.

Today people cannot see the leader of the flock. Moreover, they cannot identify any alternative to Saakashvili in the opposition ranks. People do not want to receive yet another “Kinder Surprise” through a “classical revolution”, when there are no guarantees who will come in, who will receive which post, or whether the new leaders will stop inventing new laws for their benefit. To cut it short, revolution will always lead to many unexpected results. It should also be taken into consideration that “the white fox” Shevardnadze managed to resign quietly, bloodlessly, showing goodwill by preserving peace in the country. The general mood in the country today is that Saakashvili will not go, and even if he does, not quietly.

The demonstrations might still be broken up by force, as they are not dispersing voluntarily. At a certain point the administration will get fed up. It will try to apply certain paragraphs of the Constitution and Criminal Code to the protest activities and after warning the demonstrators might try to disperse them. It still has enough resources to do that. However, this action carries with it a great risk. Breaking up the demonstrations will not bring stability to the country for a long time. It will create discontent, maybe on a larger scale, and of course will be seen very negatively by the international community as well. It could end up being a time bomb planted by the administration in its own house.

Both these developments would be more radical than those generally seen in the Western countries Georgia wants to join. The reason such possibilities exist is that since Georgia regained its independence it has not been able to create stable, democratic institutions: a free and independent court system, a strong Parliament, a free and influential media, a human rights protection system and so on. Unfortunately, the Rose Revolution has frustrated the hopes of many inside and outside Georgia who thought it would bring these things. However, an authoritarian regime is also unlikely to flourish in this country either.

So what is left? Only mutual concession and starting a dialogue. However this dialogue should be based on mutual trust that any decisions which might be reached will be followed by action and not cheating. Again and again, we keep repeating: radical and serious amendments should be introduced into the Election Code immediately, both confronting sides should abide by them and appropriate, trustworthy, international or domestic institutions should monitor this process. The decisions of the talks or negotiations should be implemented unconditionally. To cut it short, a really free and democratic Parliamentary election should be conducted finally. However, as yet we are still very far from seeing such a thing, or either side agreeing to meet to achieve it.