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Georgia Further Polarized Before Final Round of Elections

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Thursday, October 28
With a few days left until the elections’ second round, political powers are rapidly polarizing. Tension is rising in Georgian politics as leaders of the Georgian dream are predicting a convincing victory, while threatening the UNM with ‘finishing them’. The ruling team refuses to pay attention to Saakashvili’s hunger strike and criticizes the European politicians who are protesting Saakashvili’s imprisonment.

The second round of self-government elections should be held in 20 urban centers. Georgian dream plans to win every single center. Any other result is unacceptable to the ruling party. Another opposing consequence is a threat to the governmental party. According to leaders of the “Georgian dream”, any municipality handed to the opposition, would be an island of revolution and the opposition will use it to mobilize their power. The ruling party planned a great political rally in the center of Tbilisi on October 28th, which will be used to cover up oppositions’ October 14th rally with 60,000 people attending.

Leaders of the Georgian dream are sticking to their aggressive rhetoric. There is little to no difference between Gharibashvili-Kobakhidze and Kaladze’s announcements. They are all threatening the main opposition party UNM with ‘ending them’.

The Georgian dream party has been the ruling party for nine years now. During this period, they have been fighting against the UNM, but if we take a deep look at the statistics, we can see that the UNM’s rating is not getting weaker, on the contrary— it’s been increasing.

In 2014 self-government elections, the UNM collected only 317,395 votes (22,42%), in 2016 parliamentary elections 477,053 votes (27,11%), in 2020 parliamentary elections 523,127 votes (27,18%), and lastly in the first round of 2021 self-government elections 541,188 votes (30,67%).

Before the second round of the elections, in the battle of ‘votes mobilization’ ex-prime minister Giorgi Gakharia’s party’s supporters gained ‘a special meaning’.

Before the elections, leaders of the Georgian dream had been calling Gakharia a traitor and ultimately, his supporters were fired from governmental institutions. Now things have changed. Before the second round of the elections, the Georgian dream softened the aggression towards Gakharia, and his supporters were announced as potential voters of the ruling party. Gakharia, himself, declared neutrality and is not going to call for the support of any party. It's hard to say how his supporters are going to act, but most likely they will choose the Georgian Dream over the UNM.

The rest of the primary oppositional parties are unified, as they managed to consolidate, before the second round. For a bright instance, Nika Melia, a Tbilisi governor candidate, established a so-called shadow cabinet, which is going to rule a capital city. Melia named his four deputies, who are leaders of main opposition parties.

As Georgian dream leaders announced, Kaladze will win in the second round and Melia has no chance to succeed over him. Even though demonstrating such self-confidence, the ruling party is nervous about banners featuring Melia, promising free meals in schools, as well as higher pensions for senior citizens.

At first, GD leaders laughed at them, but then promised that they would provide 500 GEL assistance to senior citizens.

Mikheil Saakashvili has been on a hunger strike since October 1st, demanding freedom. Nevertheless, the government is not going to release him from prison. In fact, the ruling party does not think twice before commenting on Saakashvili’s ‘special diet’. On the other hand, Saakashvili should spend 6 years in prison, maybe more, because other charges are being added to him such as the “illegal crossing of the state border”. Consequently, men who helped Saakashvili with illegal state border crossing are also arrested.

Among western politicians, there is a rising number of authority figures and parliamentarians, who are requesting Saakashvili's freedom. The announcement, signed by five euro parliamentarians, suggests a specific plan to free the ex-president. ‘The Saakashvili case’ should be discussed by the European Court of Human Rights, prior to that he must be released. GD leaders are answering the messages from the west with anger and disrespectful criticism, telling them to not interfere in domestic affairs, suggesting to ‘mind their business.’

Saakashvili refuses to receive any medical help as of now, and his health is deteriorating daily.
(Translated by Zaur Mgebrishvili)