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Self-government elections to work as a referendum

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, June 9
The parties have already started preparations for the autumn self-government elections, but the main thing will be to find out whether new parliamentary elections will be held in 2022.

This will happen if the Georgian Dream fails to get 43% of the votes. According to experts, the ruling party created by former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia is the biggest threat to the ruling party.

On May 30, the decision of the largest opposition party, the National Movement, to enter parliament was announced. They currently hold 33 seats in parliament.

This decision was preceded by Nika Melia's lengthy consultations with other party leaders and activists. The continuation of the boycott had supporters in the party, and there was also talk that the discussion of the issue of entering or not entering the parliament might lead to the dissolution of the party.

10 MPs from the list of those who passed the legislature were in favor of continuing the boycott. However, as Giorgi Baramidze noted, the supporters of the boycott will obey the decision of the majority and will enter the parliament on the condition that the party will not sign the Charles Michel document.

As the party leader Nika Melia explained, the document is not signed because the party members do not agree with one of its points. He did not name which one, but as noted, the case concerns the amnesty law. Meanwhile, the Georgian Dream has already managed to pass an amnesty law on June 20, 2019, in the first reading in parliament, despite the opposition bloc’s being against it.

The amnesty should apply to everyone, including those who ordered the brutal crackdown on protesters. In addition, Nika Melia does not plead guilty to the charges, as if calling on the protesters to invade parliament.

The EU Delegation to Georgia and the US Embassy issued a joint statement welcoming the UNM entry into parliament, but expressed concern that the party would not join the April 19 document. Georgian Dream posed an ultimatum to the National Movement. According to Irakli Kobakhidze, those who do not sign the document of Charles Michel will not benefit from the benefits provided by this document. In particular, the National Movement will not be represented in the groups working on electoral reform and judicial reform, nor will they be able to participate in the redistribution of parliamentary power provided for in the document.

Participation in all these groups is a big responsibility for the opposition in the parliament, because the Georgian Dream will try to make changes that will not really change much, and the opposition signatories will be responsible for these documents.

The Georgian Dream also hopes that friends of the West will force the UNM to sign the Charles Michel document, which will be another reason for the Dream to ridicule the UNM, as well as the decision to enter the parliament, which has been the subject of ridiculous comments.

The entry of the "National Movement" into the parliament, in fact, ended the process of entering the parliament of the opposition, which is in a boycott mode. Because of the parties that still consider the boycott to be valid, it is the only Labor Party that has 1 MP in the parliament, and Bokeria's European Georgia continues to boycott, but the MPs who left its list left the party and entered the parliament.

As for Nino Burjanadze's party, according to official data, it did not cross the 1% threshold and, consequently, did not have a potential representative in parliament.

The entry of the opposition into parliament and the formation of a multi-party parliament has fulfilled one of the main advice-demands of the Western friends, although the constructive cooperation of these parties in the parliament, which the Western friends expect, is less than expected. Their parliamentary coexistence will end in a state of fierce and mutually abusive confrontation.

The main expectation of a large part of the opposition in the parliament is the achievement of early parliamentary elections. For the most part, it is unlikely that Elisashvili's party or Girchi parties would like to hold snap lections. Whether they will retain their seats in the new parliament is a matter of debate.

New parliamentary elections in 2022, according to a document by Charles Michel, will be called if the Georgian Dream fails to get 43% of the proportional list in this year's local elections.

The ruling party has already started preparing for this election and will traditionally start implementing various social projects in the remaining time, but one serious headache came with the return of former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia to politics.

On May 29, Gakharia's party was also presented with the name ‘for Georgia’, adding one more to the rather extensive list of parties featuring the word ‘Georgia’ in their names. Gakharia said that his party is not against anyone, but his most probable electorate is Georgian Dream voters. Gakharia is not going to criticize Bidzina Ivanishvili, which increases his votes. Otherwise, in the former prime minister's party, Ivanishvili's supporters would see his new political team. It was also reported that Gakharia is expected to have 10% support, which drastically reduces the Georgian Dream's chances of gaining the 43% needed for a ‘quiet life’ by 2024.

Of course, the opposition will not rely on Gakharia, and will make their main task in the upcoming local elections to defeat the Georgian Dream. This time, their unity is less than expected. Part of the opposition, for example, Vashadze's Strategy Builder opposes not only the Georgian Dream but also the National Movement and offers the opposition to form a third force. Opposes the support of Nika Melia, a possible candidate of the United National Movement for Tbilisi mayor.

In order for the opposition parties not to oppose each other in the Tbilisi mayoral election, Lelo came up with the idea of jointly supporting a person not associated with any parties- a company CEO or a “respectable person from abroad.” However, it is still unknown whether this proposal would be acceptable to the rest of the opposition, or who would be considered as such a candidate for mayor.