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Autumn of the opposition's discontent

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 7
Traditionally in the autumn season, protest rallies and actions start in Georgia. This year it is very difficult to make any predictions since charges by opposition parties were defused very strongly in the late spring. It is hard to foresee what activities the opposition will initiate, and—more importantly—how ready the population is to participate in protest activities.

One innovation has been social networking in Georgia, such as on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. For example someone used Facebook to recommend commemorating the 8th anniversary of the Rose Revolution on November 23 by organizing a human protest chain starting from US Embassy and finishing at the President's residence in Avlabari. Some see this as an influence of the Arab Spring.

Of course in the Arab world very significant results were achieved through social networking. Right from the beginning doubts arouse about where the protest chain should start in Tbilisi. Some think that connecting the USA to the Rose Revolution is wrong; they suggest that Russia also played a very significant role by supporting revolutionary activities in Georgia in 2003. Others think that Russia’s connection with the Rose Revolution is essentially erroneous, so it is difficult to predict what will come from this idea of the human chain protest. In addition, the ruling authorities are also planning their own important celebrations on that day.

Meanwhile the opposition faces its usual problem—the absence of any credible leader, either as a party or as a person. They still hope to manage and consolidate somehow around a so-called "Opposition 6" to create a united program. There are high hopes that a new political force will emerge. Analysts notice some other public activities as well that could transform eventually into a political movement, but it remains unclear what type of organization this would be and when it would turn into a political force.

Many believe that Georgians are mostly interested in a public movement rather than another political party. Parties need an ideology to stand on and a viable action plan and this is difficult at the moment--especially one that looks innovative and attractive.

Currently the ruling power feels very confident, self assured and comfortable. The elections code and other amendments to the Constitution will probably be accepted by the parliamentary majority without any problem. However, as analyst Irakli Sesiashvili thinks, politics are full of the unexpected. A small stone could provoke an avalanche.

Everybody in Georgia has noticed that social problems are on the increase. Inflation keeps growing and prices are increasing. The GEL 100 pension for the elderly which has been touted so actively by the Government is not convincing pensioners or anyone else as a survival minimum. Food, medical care and communal payments need at least double this amount. All the country's main solid assets have been privatized and sold, very few lesser ones remain. Different infrastructure projects and advertising campaigns consume huge amounts of money, and the crucial problem arises as to where to get extra financing.

Analyst Kakha Katsitadze thinks that though the ruling powers practically control the entire opposition spectrum, its main target now is to control all of society. One step for the ruling authorities is the attempt to interfere in church activities. However this has been a rather risky move. If not for the wise position of Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia II, the country could have plunged into serious unrest. Also, the recent scandal concerning the dismissal of our world-famous theater director, Robert Sturua, from his position was not a successful experience for the ruling powers.

Thus the deceptively calm situation could in fact signify a kind of pre-storm civility. God Bless Georgia!