The big unrest in the Georgian political spectrum at the moment has been recently caused by the formerly boycotted opposition which is divided into two parts - those who enter parliament based on the April 19 agreement and those who remain in the boycott mode. After Nika Melia’s release, the UNM must decide whether it will remain in a boycott regime or join the April 19 document.
New Wave of Events in the Georgian Politics
By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, May 19
The opposition seems to find it very difficult to maintain unity. And the Georgian Dream will have to clarify its relations not only with the already known opposition but also with those political parties whose formation was announced by former Prime Minister Gakharia and Levan Vasadze.
Nika Melia, the leader of the main opposition party, is free after 73 days in prison. His bail was paid by one of the non-governmental organizations in the European Union. After his release, Melia received mocking comments from the Georgian Dream, saying “nothing is left of his political authority.” However, his party members and a large part of the opposition consider his release a victory and believe Melia's image hasn’t been damaged.
One of the main reasons why Melia agreed to leave on bail was to avoid the amnesty law, which provides amnesty for perpetrators of ‘Gavrilov’s Night.’ Melia is accused of attempting to invade parliament, which was followed by unrest and brutality by the police.
However, Melia and other victims claim that there was no attempted invasion and that it was invented by the authorities to justify the attack on peaceful protesters. Melia demands the case be solved and since he doesn’t trust the Georgian Court, he has filed a lawsuit in the Strasbourg Court.
Two draft amnesty laws have been submitted to the parliament- by the government and by the opposition. The Georgian Dream is going to pardon everyone, even those whose guilt has not been revealed. A heated debate is expected in the parliament, but the Georgian Dream has an opportunity to get what they want by justifying the need to pass an amnesty law with Charles Michel’s document.
After the release of Nika Melia, Western friends unanimously called on the "National Movement" to stop the boycott and enter parliament. There is no unity of opinion in the National Movement on this issue. Part of it thinks that it is necessary to stay in the boycott regime and continue the fight with protests for snap elections. They claim that by entering the parliament they will only strengthen the positions of the Georgian Dream.
However, many in the United National Movement believe that it is necessary to enter parliament as it is more diverse now.
Western friends believe that the entry of the opposition into parliament will be the basis for its constructive cooperation with the government to carry out reforms in the electoral law or the judiciary, which are agreed on in the April 19 agreement.
However, many find this unrealistic and believe that the Georgian Dream is imitating a democratic change, deceiving Georgia’s Western friends. Georgian Dream, despite the April 19 agreement, isn’t changing its rhetoric and calls Nika Melia and other opposition members ‘political criminals’. Opposition members say that this is the style of Bidzina Ivanishvili's rule - to have politicians arrested and use them as trading tools. Clearly, such a situation does not provide a good basis for any constructive dialogue.
One of the main questions is whether the Georgian Dream will be able to gain 43% of votes in the elections this autumn. No one has explained what 43% stands for.
But it is written in the document of April 19 and if the Georgian Dream does not reach this figure, early parliamentary elections should be called in 2022. Georgian Dream says that this will not be a problem for them, and they can get 60% of the votes, but the opposition is also optimistic.
They are not able to agree on how to defeat the Georgian Dream, getting more and more comfortable in the parliament to rule for their third term. Should it be done with a united force, as Melia says, or by running separately in the elections, which the newly formed parties find attractive in the conditions of a low electoral threshold?
Giorgi Vashadze (Strategy Builder) is especially active in this regard, who considers it necessary to separate from the National Movement and suggests creating a ‘third political center’.
Georgian Dream is also in a difficult situation. Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and his party are threatening the ruling party by seizing votes. This is why those who are considered to be on Gakharia’s side keep getting fired from the government structures.
Levan Vasadze's new political union is expected to replace the Patriots Alliance and the Georgian March, which were known for their open anti-Western sentiments.
The first confrontation between the government and the parliament will be over the amnesty law. The nature of the debate and the document adopted will show us who benefits the most from the April 19 document.