Georgian politics has entered a dead end. The ruling team refuses to agree to snap elections but also can’t have the opposition enter the Parliament. The opposition has no concrete plan to make the government collaborate and is unable to organise protest rallies or get international support.
The Dead End of Georgian Politics
By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, February 3
The Georgian Dream needs other parties in the Parliament and is trying to make the opposition collaborate. The success is minimal- the pro-Russian political party Alliance of Patriots’ members have united under the name of European Socialists and have entered the Parliament. Aleko Elisashvili’s Citizens as well as some of the Girchi members might enter as well. 51 MPs are maintaining the strike. They have removed themselves from the party list a while ago and have requested to have their plenary powers halted.
The Georgian Dream is taking its time to satisfy the opposition’s claims as it will seal the opposition’s absence from the Parliament, which would ultimately deprive the government of any possibility to pressure the opposition. Thus, the issue will be discussed in an open format soon and the Georgian Dream may be refusing to satisfy the opposition’s demands. In this way, the government can show the international partners its effort to collaborate with the opposition. So, the ruling team’s attempts to pressure the opposition parties will continue while trying to ‘individually’ convince them to enter the Parliament.
During this tense confrontation between the government and the opposition, the NDI published the results of its December poll last year, which made the government very happy and confused the opposition.
According to the survey, when asked which party was closest to their views, 31% of respondents named Georgian Dream, 5%- National Movement, 9% named other opposition parties. Government spokesman Mamuka Mdinaradze said that National Movement’s rating is at an all-time low and is 6 times lower than that of the Georgian Dream. According to the representatives of the government, the people are dissatisfied with the actions of the opposition and demand it to enter the parliament. The opposition even explained the results recorded by NDI, saying that given it was a telephone poll, people were probably afraid to express their point of view openly. However, according to several opposition parties, the NDI poll also shows people's dissatisfaction with the opposition and requires them to change their tactics.
The opposition has been embroiled in fruitless and hopeless negotiations with the Georgian Dream over the snap elections, and ordinary people face the task of survival, the main issue for them being extremely aggravated socio-economic problems.
The pandemic is not to end anytime soon and the government believes that the way to help is to order strict lockdowns. It has destroyed the tourism and restaurant businesses, it has halted the economy. There is no public transport and unemployment rates have significantly increased. The business sector and ordinary citizens have started protest rallies, which are local and chaotic. Opposition parties join the protest and support it.
The opposition which is on strike is planning on organising mass protest rallies since it is the only thing they can hold against the government. The opposition is talking about “the society’s accumulating rage”. As Khatia Dekanoidze notes, it is “we should get angry enough to collect a lot of people for us to show the government we own our rights.”
The government is afraid of mass protest rallies and calls the opposition “destructive”, blaming it for creating drama and “fattening their pockets” as well as for planning a revolution. The Georgian Dream says it is not afraid of the revolution. Gia Volsky has stated that the opposition cannot cause massive unrest as the public doesn’t agree and the “government structures are stable enough”.
The government considers the international events to be their advantage. Georgian Dream’s Chair of the EU Integration Committee Maka Bochorishvili’s assessment is the following: “Brussel has voiced the opinion that the elections were fair and held according to international standards. Our European Colleges do not understand what the boycott is about.”
Pridon Injia, the parliament opposition member has also commented on this, saying that at the European Council sessions, he expected more negative feedback regarding the elections than were expressed. The opposition on strike agrees that they have more work to do in this regard by talking to our international partner countries.
The opposition has actively responded to the fact that in Joe Bide’s call with Vladimir Putin, where they also spoke about Ukraine, there was no discussion regarding Georgia whose 20% Russia has occupied. The opposition parties believe that this is due to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “let’s-not-upset-Russia politics.” The opposition believes that Georgia should make sure it is part of “high-rank political discussions.” However, it is unlikely that the Georgian Dream’s firmly set foreign politics will suddenly change a path.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)