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Two months before the elections

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 29
Though it has been announced several times that May 30 will be the date of the local elections this has not yet been officially confirmed by Parliament, though it should be today. Another oddity is that so far the ruling party has not yet officially adopted a candidate for Mayor of Tbilisi, although unofficially everyone knows it will be current Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who has been effectively conducting his election campaign for several months.

Some of the opposition parties have nominated their candidates, others not so far. However the opposition have not united around a common candidate and thus the chances of any of them are almost zero. Some opposition parties have refused to participate in the elections at all, for instance the Labour Party, which has decided to use different tactics for removing the administration. On March 22 a meeting was held on Labour's initiative which adopted an appeal addressed to the leaders of EU countries and the US administration. The appeal asks the international community to help the Georgian people get rid of the Saakashvili regime and restore our territorial integrity, which it says the Saakashvili administration cast away as a result of its policies.

Not all the opposition parties attended this conference. The Alliance for Georgia and National Forum from the non-Parliamentary opposition and the Christian-Democrats from the Parliamentary opposition refused. In fact a similar type of statement was sent to the UN on December 30, 2009, in which opposition parties asked the UN to conduct every aspect of the local elections in Georgia. All the opposition parties signed this document but of course the appeal was rejected, and most probably the March 22 appeal, which calls for an international conference to be held to discuss removing the Saakashvili administration and restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity will be ignored too.

The parties which did not participate in the convention have derided the appeal. “We think that the document initiated by Labour has no value at all, as it is absolutely unrealistic to hold a conference at which representatives of Western countries and international organisations will discuss the removal of the administration of Georgia,” stated Political Secretary of the National Forum Irakli Melashvili. Similar scepticism was expressed by Alliance for Georgia member Davit Zurabishvili. He even expressed a suspicion that some opposition forces could be playing the Government's game.

One of the reasons the National Forum and Alliance refused to participate in the opposition convention was Zurab Noghaideli's presence there. When some opposition parties suggest Noghaideli as an alternative to Saakashvili they have no chance receiving wider support. The major disagreements between the parties who participated on March 22 and those who did not are based on whether they are pro-Russian or pro-Western in orientation. It is clear that this divergence is serious and touches the fundamental values of the parties and the country itself. All of which does nothing more than help the Government, exactly the opposite of what an opposition is supposed to do, regardless of its ideology.

So despite their optimistic statements the opposition parties are most probably doomed to lose the local elections. They have no unity and the administration is very efficiently using its advantages. It is true everywhere that people do not like divided parties, even if they agree with their policies. The opposition needs to sort out very quickly what it is really disagreeing about, and whether it actually matters.