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Georgia: between revolution and election

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 18
Georgia, as always, offers surprises to both the local and international community. On one hand Georgian authorities claim that they stand firm on their position and plan to stay in power for another 5-6 years because President Saakashvili and his team constantly speculate on what should be done by 2015-17. On the other hand, the whole of the opposition spectrum expresses its confidence claiming that Saakashvili and his team will soon leave their position. However the opposition itself is not unanimous, whether this change will happen through elections or through a revolution.

8 leading opposition parties, some of them parliamentary and some not, are conducting dialogue with the representatives of the ruling power, concerning the introduction of necessary amendments in the election code with the purpose of holding transparent, just and fair elections. Georgia’s western friends also insist on making serious changes in the elections code. On the other hand some more radical elements of the opposition are promoting more aggressive plans.

Meanwhile, the negotiations are going very slowly and some opposition members claim that the ruling authorities are deliberately wasting time. The opposition demands biometric ID cards for the elections to be introduced which, according to them, will eradicate the threat of manipulations. The ruling authorities suggest carrying out this procedure only in Tbilisi as a pilot project. The opposition however does not accept this as, according to its observations, major manipulations took place in the regions of Georgia whereas Tbilisi population was and is better prepared to protect their votes and keep order during the elections. Most foreign observers also have easier access to polling stations in Tbilisi.

The more radically oriented opposition are claiming that the ruling power will not loosen its grip because, with these levers, it can manipulate the election results. It is generally suggested that it would make no sense for the ruling authorities to allow certain changes which could undermine their guaranteed victory in the elections. So, it is suggested that the ruling administration will do its best to bring the negotiations into deadlock.

This background certainly provides strong grounds for those sources which are oriented on revolutionary changes. Just 2-3 years ago the word ‘revolution’ was taboo in Georgia however currently events developing in Arab countries legitimize the word revolution. So, now many opposition members publicly threaten that they will promote revolutionary steps in the country, however all of them suggest that they will be peaceful and civilized without specifying exactly how it will take place. Meanwhile the social and economic situation in the country with prices going up and inflation, the promises of Singapore life are pretty far away. Representatives of the ruling power assure the population that their position is firm and that so called revolutionaries create problems for themselves.

Some analysts suggest that eventually the career of some radical opposition members might end in prison. There are some speculations as to when the elections should be held. The ruling administration plans to hold elections in spring 2012 but if it is properly calculated the parliamentary elections should be held in autumn in 2011. Some opposition members insist that the ruling forces are obliged to hold the elections in the autumn of this year, hoping that by then the opposition will have managed to force through the necessary amendments and on the other hand mobilize the population and create a pro-opposition mood.