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Elections code: target for unification

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, August 3
The Opposition in Georgia is forever claiming that it should unite. However each opposition entity wants to be at the core – the one that the others unite around. Thus, even the vague subject for unification creates discord among the opposition. There is however the feeling that success in unity is here. Therefore there are attempts to find common ground in, for example a uniting slogan or a topic that could facilitate the unification of the opposition forces. Following the defeat in the May 30th local elections, the opposition has taken time out for the summer and is arranging itself for unification and possibly new waves of street rallies in the autumn. Analysts predict that the area for unification could be the fight over the new elections code. 7 opposition parties have already aired their intent to start strategic planning for the improvement of elections environment by signing a statement: National Forum, New Rights, the Conservatives, Free Democrats, Republicans, Peoples Party and Georgia’s Way.

In 2007-09 the opposition demanded the resignation of Saakashvili together with snap presidential and parliamentary elections. In parallel with such demands the opposition always claimed that the elections code should be modified, improved and adopted. Although some amendments were introduced, the opposition believes that the existing election code does not give ground for their elections. Indeed many analysts believe this is true and a change in the elections code is vitally important for the development of democracy in the country.

The Opposition sits at the crossroads, while selecting a slogan for its next moves it has to choose one which will suit people's demand. Generally this is the resignation of the government or the president; people like such slogans. Recently however such slogans have proven unsuccessful. In 2003 when Saakashvili broke into parliament and demanded that Shevardnadze resign, he did so the very next day. Lately when people have demanded that Saakashvili resign they have not broken into the parliament building, not indeed anywhere else and indeed Saakashvili has not resigned. It is no surprise therefore that those who went out into the streets are somewhat frustrated.

While it may well be easier for opposition parties to unite under the slogan of a new elections code, it will be very difficult to convince people to come out onto the streets rally under these slogans. Thus the opposition needs to find how it can motivate people to come out onto the streets and influence the ruling powers to make concessions; otherwise the ruling administration will simply ignore any cause from opposition.

A solution could be to attract an influential international body – one respectable and solid enough to convince the ruling authorities to make a deal with the opposition. One opposition leader, Kakha Kukava might be airing the opposition's current opinion among when he stated his distrust of the American NDI (National Democratic Institute), considering it pro government. He is therefore suggesting some European organizations as mediator between the opposition and ruling party. It will be interesting to discover who will represent and appear as spokesman for the opposition. This is a very important and crucial issue. There is one more thing concerning the elections code, which has lingered since Georgia regained independence in the 1990s. This is the issue of voters' lists. The opposition very strongly suggests the use of a biometric system for registration. However in implementing this novel procedure many technical problems may be encountered. Time is working in favor of the ruling power – the longer the technical approaches last, the less time remains. Time pressure is forcing both sides to take urgent measures and here ruling force has big advantages to more officially use administrative resources. So, if the opposition wants to achieve some viable results it should not waste time and start moving immediately.