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Possible changes after the parliamentary elections

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 12
The leading political party in Georgia represents a major peculiarity within the Georgian election system. Usually this is a very eclectic amalgamation united around one charismatic leader and this party is identified with the state. It has been like that since Georgia regained its independence. First it was President Zviad Gamsakhurdia with his round table coalition, later it was Eduard Shevardnadze with its Citizens' Union; today it is United National Movement (UNM) under Saakashvili.

The upcoming parliamentary elections are essentially different, because they are based on competition. A solid force exists in the opposition that can compete with the current administration. In previous years the governance of the party in power was so strong that it could only be moved by way of force. Therefore, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was ousted after a coup d'etat organized by his prime minister and defense minister. And in 2003 Shevardnadze was removed from his position by the so-called Rose Revolution organized by young people previously promoted and supported by Shevardnadze himself. Today the situation is different. There is now a real political force in the opposition who is able to challenge the authorities and hopes to replace it.

There is a considerable difference between the current regime in Georgia and the leading opposition party in democratic countries. Most of the time, the leading opposition party preserves its position after the elections and there is a solid border between the state and the party. This is guaranteed and performed by the independent court there. In Georgia things are different. The party in power is identified with the state; the previous experience is rather dramatic. The overthrow of the leaders Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze led to the dissolution of their parties.

The UNM, the current leading party, is essentially based on the unification of three leaders. These were: former Chair of the Parliament, Nino Burjanadze, late PM Zurab Zhvania and Presdient Mikheil Saakashvili. Zvhvania died in obscure circumstances in 2005, Burjanadze left the UNM in 2008 prior to the Russian invasion and it is led today by Mikheil Saakashvili.

So far the current administration has not experienced much discomfort from opposition forces. There were small opposition factions in the parliament and a larger opposition outside the parliament. Neither of those entities created any serious threat to the rule of the UNM for nine- years. During this period the rule of political party was identified with the state in many respects. It was not only political, but also controlled business as well.

What could the 2012 parliamentary elections yield? The Rose administration seeks an overwhelming victory; this means that it will attempt everything possible to achieve this result. The Georgian Dream coalition aims for victory during the elections. However, some analysts suggest that the ruling party will secure its victory through the manipulation of the election. This might be challenged by the opposition coalition and it could be attempted by organizing street protests. The developments in this case cannot be predicted clearly. They can develop in any direction. One can only hope that configuration of parliament will result in parity– a parity that is more or less suitable for everybody. The hope is that the developments will lie within the country's constitutional framework. Georgia has to prove to the world community that it can accept these changes without revolutions and similar activities.