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Autumn and the non-Parliamentary opposition

By Messenger Staff
Friday, August 27
Observation has shown that the opposition is more active in spring and autumn, as it is uncomfortably cold in winter and very hot in summer. This spring the opposition was preoccupied with the local elections issue. So, now as autumn approaches we anticipate the opposition will resume its activities. However, this year opposition activities are not that energetic. It appears that so far only Nino Burjanadze has taken the initiative in announcing that she is going to hold a people’s convention organisational meeting on September 29. She is currently conducting meetings and negotiations with different opposition parties. This vital part of non-Parliamentary opposition is certain that nothing can be changed by the election process and only mass protests can yield some results. But this means they have to carry out serious propaganda to convince people to come out onto the streets. This was the case a year and a half ago in April-June 2009, but it did not result in any changes in government or the ruling authorities. The Saakashvili administration did not resign even though it was under great pressure. So society remained very frustrated. The population, who was already frustrated with the ruling administration, became disappointed in the opposition. Those who supported the opposition went out into the streets and demanded the resignation of the current leadership, but were not rewarded with a result. “So there is a general demand among the population for a new force, either political, or public, which will manage to mobilise the population, show the right way to move and the correct methods,” thinks Gela Nikoleishvili, an opposition leaning lawyer.

Analysts and opposition representatives predict a “hot autumn.” There are some forecasts that the socio-economic situation in the country will deteriorate and this could cause some social unrest. The ruling administration has made some unpopular actions – exerting pressure on IDP as it tries to evict them from one place and move them to another, in addition it is trying to organise separate marketplaces for street traders. Thus, the administration is losing support from these segments of the population. Meanwhile the opposition passively observes the developments and in general is not participating in the protests of the unsatisfied people. The only one who is somewhat active is Nino Burjanadze together with her Party. She initiated the organising of the people’s convention. “On September 29 she wants to hold an organisational meeting, where all the political parties and representatives of different communities, regions, villages or towns, should give their views on the future of their country,” suggests Vakhtang Kolbaia, one of the leaders of Nino Burjanadze’s Party. Nino Burjanadze herself thinks that the ruling administration is panicky about a people’s convention organised on a national scale, because the people present will be able to make a decision on whether they like this leadership or not and whether they want snap parliamentary or presidential elections.

However, even in such an initiative, the opposition is not united. Some of the influential opposition parties oppose this initiative, such as the Labourists, New Right, Republicans and Alasania’s Party. Others have yet not made up their minds, such as the influential National Forum. Republican Party representative, Davit Zurabishvili, commenting about this initiative mentioned “if it is an attempt to create something like an alternative Parliament, it is principally unacceptable.” There is much concern about the idea of snap elections because if elections are held in the same election environment and with the same election code, the ruling majority has a virtually guaranteed victory. Opposition MP Gia Tsagareishvili states that “if the election code is not amended, the Central Election Commission and the courts are not free from the pressure of the ruling administration, if police structures are not separated from the elections process, we do not need elections.” Some analysts suggest not to demand snap parliamentary elections, but only snap presidential elections, however of course this should be done under a new elections code. So, in short, we can say that currently the opposition is at a crossroads: there are numerous opinions and approaches, but one is clear – if the opposition is not united, if their ambitions are not less categorical and if they don’t give up their claims to be the only leaders, they have no chance.