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Parliament Speaker addresses business

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, September 27
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker and leader of the Republican Party (which will run independently in the upcoming October 8 parliamentary elections), David Usupashvili, has urged business people “not to be influenced” by any political force and make a “free choice” at polling stations.

The address came after last week’s meeting between Georgia’s ex-Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, Bizdina Ivanishvili, and the business community.

At the meeting, Ivanishvili asked the entrepreneurs whether they were ready or not to inform people around them about the achievements of the current authorities, which took office in 2012.

Ivanishvili stressed that unlike in 2003-2012, under the United National Movement (UNM) authorities, business was no longer suppressed, and businesses in Georgia felt this very tangibly.

Ivanishvili also said a certain portion of the people were disappointed by the actions of the current authorities as they had not been able to improve the general economic condition in the country.

However, Ivanishvili stressed that a range of positive steps have been taken, but it was impossible to improve all the drawbacks in four years.

"You are well aware of the special role of free and fair competition, not only in terms of economic development, but also in general progress,” Usupashvili stated.

“Politics needs free and fair competition, just like business. A non-competitive environment leads the political system to the swamp, like it does to the economic system. Even the most generous political power starts producing low-quality, expensive and dangerous products without competition,” Usupashvili added.

He also called on entrepreneurs not to contribute to establishing an uncompetitive one-party system in the country and vote for parties whose election program was closer to their expectations.

It is very likely that the business community will make a free choice as no one can force them at the polling stations to vote for any party.

Even under the UNM authorities in 2012, when the pre-election and election environment was very tense, the GD coalition managed to win simply because people supported them.

Now, when all international and local organisations stress that pre-election campaigning is calm and transparent, it is less likely voters will be forced to vote for the parties or individuals they dislike.

The relationship of Ivanishvili and the Republicans has also attracted attention.

When Ivanishvili established the GD coalition to defeat the nine-year rule of the UNM, the Republicans took a central part in the coalition. Ivanishvili frequently praised them for their professionalism.

Now Ivanishvili says the Republicans always act based on their “own, narrow political interests”.

It can be said the Republican Party is a favourite target of Ivanishvili, who is considered an “informal ruler” of the country by the opposition.

When Ivanishvili served as Prime Minister in 2012-2013, he was frequently asked who could be in the opposition for 2016 parliamentary elections, as the coalition at that time united the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, the Free Democrats, the Republicans, the National Forum, the Conservatives, the Industrials party and the People’s Party; in fact, the coalition contained most of the parties of Parliament.

Ivanishvili used to answer that if there was not a real, strong opposition for 2016, the coalition would split and ex-coalition members would create an opposition wing.

This lunacy has really happened.

Based on the polls, the Republicans do not have a high rating, it may be hard for them to overcome the 5% threshold to appear in the legislative body.

On the other hand, the number of people who dislike Ivanishvili has increased, as people accuse Ivanishvili, a billionaire, of not helping them.

Consequently, Ivanishvili’s consistent criticism of the Republicans may work to their advantage and attract votes for the Republicans.