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Different visions of Georgia’s political system

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 30
Since regaining its independence Georgia’s political establishment has been permanently debating what kind of political system does the country require. Most of the opposition parties opposed the system existing in the country claiming that presidential republic has not proved to be right system for Georgia and for the democratic development the country should shift to the parliamentary republic. Therefore presidential institute either should have abolished or its powers should be diminished. All the parties claiming this opinion added that public opinion was also at their side.

Current constitution reform is of this direction. President’s rights were decreased, whereas PM’s rights are increased. The system proposed clearly moves country from presidential to parliamentary republic. So, presumably the opposition as well as the population should have been satisfied with such changes.

Recent NDI polls have showed that things are not that simple. There was a question in the polling asking which type of political system do you prefer? 48% supported the existing presidential model, while 14% supported the introduction of a strong PM’s post, and 31% did not respond. So, it could be concluded that almost half of those questioned are satisfied with existing model. It is significant that research around half an year ago showed that most respondents supported the idea of delegating part of the presidents powers to other bodies; what is the reason for such change of opinion? Some analysts suggest that maybe this is because it has become quite evident that the current president is planning to take over the PM’s post when his presidential term expires. A Question on the presidents future career was included in the recent poll as well; what was respondents’ opinion on president Saakashvili’s political career after his term expires. 32% are against his becoming a PM, 26% support, 23% did not answer and 16% answered they do not care at all.

The general assumption is that the idea of Saakashvili becoming the PM is not very popular in society. there are interesting results in the poll concerning Saakashvili’s answer to the French newspaper Le Monde interview about considering becoming PM. 32% of respondents did not support the president’s claims, 26% supported, 16% - answered they do not care, 26% had no opinion.

In conclusion it could be said that the NDI poll showed that the idea of president Saakashvili becoming the PM is not that popular, so both sides will need to take this into account. The Ruling party has to present more arguments to justify such a move to convince people of the correctness of this shift, whereas the opposition has a very substantial lever to turn public opinion in their favour. The question now is which side proves to be the more skillful political player.