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Unclear future for opposition

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, March 24
For the last several years the non-Parliamentary opposition, whose primary target is the removal of the Saakashvili regime, have been running on the spot. Sometimes they demand snap Presidential or Parliamentary elections, sometimes they organise mass protest actions and rallies, sometimes they boycott elections, sometimes they combine these methods. Or at least some of them do, at any one time. But whatever the opposition do, the end result is always the same.

The only thing which unites the non-Parliamentary opposition is the fact that they are never united. Still the various parties have different ideas on how to fight against the authorities and one opposition faction does not listen to another. Consequently the people are frustrated, confused and fed up. The date of the local elections has been set, the election campaign has started but the non-Parliamentary opposition have not found common ground. They are still consulting and confronting each other. All this gives a serious advantage to the ruling party, particularly in the battle for Mayor of Tbilisi.

The opposition say that they do not trust the authorities to hold just, fair and transparent elections. The authorities on their side however claim that the opposition are only talking about violations now because they know they will lose and want an excuse ready. Some opposition forces are cooperating with the ruling party through participating in election code amendment work. Others are helping check and agree the voters list, which the administration wants to see so it can answer any accusation by saying that the list was checked by the opposition itself. The State allotted GEL 1.2 million for this checking and 12 opposition parties are involved in this process.

There is a group of opposition parties which will boycott the forthcoming elections on the grounds they have already been rigged. Labour, the National Forum and Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement-United Georgia are in this category. At the end of 2009 some opposition parties asked the UN to run the elections in Georgia. Although this demand was eventually rejected Georgia's Western friends and international institutions are still demanding really democratic elections.

The Georgian Government is aware of the seriousness of this demand and is doing everything to make the elections look just and fair. However the ruling party has unlimited administrative resources and knows very well how to manipulate things in its favour. For example, if you walk the streets of Tbilisi at the moment you will see roadworks taking place almost everywhere. Streets are being paved, pipes are being changed, a new motorway is being built, the railways are being diverted from the centre of Tbilisi and so on. All this is PR for Tbilisi residents. It shows the Mayor’s office in a very favourable light and thousands of jobs have been created. Presumably these newly-employed persons will vote for the Government candidate whether they are Tbilisi residents or not. Is this not a misuse of administrative resources? Let us think together.

The parties checking the voter lists have detected multiple errors in them, such as many new names being suddenly registered at the same address, certain areas being excluded, repeat names and so on. All this creates a very chaotic situation which will affect the opposition in particular. The latter is still trying to create problems for the authorities, for instance Temur Shashiashvili, leader of the Whites Movement and Governor of Imereti in Shevardnadze's time, is trying to impeach the President and has even submitted a document to this effect to Parliament, although it is unlikely that this initiative will be supported.

Protest rallies are still an option too, and Koba Davitashvili of the People's Party is one of the opposition leaders in favour of these. But we saw several months of such protests last year which yielded practically no results. The people got agitated, their expectations were aroused, the authorities panicked for a while but nothing actually changed. Georgia is once again about to be gripped by expectation, but does not seem to have much hope in those who should fulfill them, whether they are opposition or Government.