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Georgian Dream Parliament starts operating

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, December 14
The confrontation between the government and the opposition culminated before the opening of the new parliament. The Georgian Dream appears to have managed to have broken up the unity of the opposition- several boycotted opposition figures intend to enter parliament.

The Georgian Dream will no longer be alone in Parliament. it immediately tightened its grip on the opposition remaining in the boycott regime, primarily the National Movement and opposition TV channels.

Even though the Georgian Dream won 90 seats in the next Parliament and came to power for a third term, the boycott of the opposition created discomfort - a one-party parliament failed to create a democratic landscape for the current government.

That is why the Georgian Dream party agreed to negotiate through the mediation of the US and EU ambassadors. The negotiations between the government and the opposition were not open to the public for a total of five rounds held. The two main demands of the opposition - holding new parliamentary elections and releasing political prisoners - were categorically unacceptable to the government.

Instead, he made promises to reform the electoral system of the electoral system. Periodically, it was reported that in parallel with the ongoing negotiations mediated by the ambassadors, the Georgian Dream was behind the scenes trying to reach a deal with the boycotted opposition, who was under both promises and pressure. This pressure was a severe test for the unity of the opposition.

The behind-the-scenes negotiations seem to have paid off. On December 8th, Irakli Okruashvili, the leader of one of the opposition parties, said for the first time that he had information that “up to seven MPs from the opposition are entering parliament. They enter not on the first day, but slowly.” This statement was responded to by others and caused great consternation in the media and opposition circles. Some suggested that several members of Girchi and Strategy Builder, as well as Aleko Elisashvili's Citizens, were going to enter Parliament. This was followed by terrible outrage among the appointees and once again underscored the unity of the opposition in the issue of the boycott of Parliament. Giorgi Vashadze called the rumors about entering the Parliament ‘shameless speculations,’ while Aleko Elisashvili said that those who accused him of entering the parliament were ‘just rude.’

However, the next day, Aleko Elisashvili was the first one from the opposition to say he agreed to enter Parliament if the government agreed to reform election legislation and the election administration. This was followed by the statement of the members of Girchi that electoral reform is a priority for them as well. The opposition considered entering the parliament in the name of electoral system reform as a weak argument. According to Nino Burjanadze, entering the parliament in the name of ‘illusory electoral reform’ is a refusal to join the opposition and join the Georgian Dream. He said that the fluctuation of individuals from the opposition would not greatly harm the unity of the opposition.

The government is trying to divide the boycotted opposition into two parts. Some see the newly formed parties (Girchi, Citizens) as constructive, as do the opposition, which will enter parliament on an ‘individual basis.’ The second part is called ‘radical opposition,’ which is united by 'rebellion against the democratic constitution' and 'parliamentary sabotage' is a tool to achieve this goal. The 'radical opposition' has been declared an anti-Western and pro-Russian force. This accusation is especially ridiculous for the opposition, because it was made by a representative of the 'Russian oligarch' party, who buried the Anaklia project, and on June 20, 2019, introduced Russian MP Gavrilov in the Georgian parliament and brutally dispersed people gathered in protest.

One day before the opening of the parliament, one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, held a briefing and announced what they were going to do in the first parliament- threatened to boycott the remaining parties by amending the law and canceling budget funding. - The main opposition party has threatened to disband the United National Movement because its leader is Mikheil Saakashvili (a "foreign citizen" and a "convicted person in court in Georgia"). He also declared 'three opposition TV stations' as 'destructive.'

With this speech, Irakli Kobakhidze ended the negotiations with the opposition, although the 5th round of negotiations was still ahead. The opposition gathered at Lelo's office described Kobakhidze's speech as a statement by the Georgian Dream about future repression and the 'establishment of a one-party oligarchic dictatorship.'

Irakli Kobakhidze's toughened tone, according to some experts, is a sign that the Georgian Dream has already agreed to allow several opposition members to enter parliament. However, it is known how many oppositionists the Dream needs to enter parliament - as it has 90 seats, at least 10 of the 60-member opposition boycotters must agree to enter parliament to bring the number of parliamentarians to 100 and make up two-thirds of the 150-member parliament.

Everything will become clear after December 11, when it will be clear who will enter the parliament of the 10th convocation.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)