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Political crossfire doing more damage to the opposition

Tuesday, March 11

Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze and opposition coalition member MP Levan Gachechiladze both enjoy the top spot on their party’s ticket for the parliamentary elections. But prominence makes targets, and Burjanadze is better suited to withstand the fire.

Burjanadze, who once kept largely above the muddy political fray, is now increasingly willing to parry political attacks from the opposition. The hunger strikers, splayed across lounge chairs on parliament’s steps, are a ‘gimmick,’ she scoffs.

And Gachechiladze, with his Tbilisi kuchis bichi mien, announced at the same protest he would begin ‘swearing at Nino Burjanadze,’ previously the respected mediator in the government-opposition standoff, for complicity in rigged elections.

All while opposition politicians running outside the coalition ticket are sniping at both (like Labor’s Soso Shatberashvili, who says Gachechiladze wasted a golden opportunity by allowing tens of thousands of post-election protestors to disperse).

To a distressingly large degree, Georgian politics are personality-driven: the lineup of ‘faces’ on a party ticket can both define and determine electoral success.

And so, as hunger strikers demand ‘free and fair parliamentary elections’ (an awfully brave stance to take, given that the elections are two months off), the political prep work for those elections is being done as each party seeks to tarnish the first name on competing party tickets.

But Burjanadze is the most respected politician in the country, and fewer and fewer voters buy into Gachechiladze’s aggressive, uncouth approach to oratory. The opposition coalition will need to explore political tactics beyond fiery grandstanding if they hope to capitalize on a potentially golden electoral moment.