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It will take more than quarantine to save this opposition campaign

Tuesday, March 25
Hunger striking opposition campaigners briefly quarantined themselves over the weekend, an apt metaphor for their approach to politics this month.

The eight-party opposition coalition leading the hunger strike, which began March 9, is “boycotting” leading television stations Rustavi 2 and Mze by refusing to speak to their journalists. Like the medically unnecessary quarantine (now partially lifted), far from attracting sympathy or attention this only limits their ability to communicate with voters.

And just as the quarantine isolated campaigners from friends and passersby, so has their senseless choice of tactics alienated voters and appalled would-be backers.

The hunger strikers first demanded free and fair elections, the freeing of ‘political prisoners,’ and other nebulous government concessions. Some wanted a 17-point memorandum from January to be agreed to. Exactly at what point the strike would end was never clear.

Then, after the Patriarch’s futile call for compromise, the opposition whittled their demands to a new scheme for electing parliamentarians. Then they reverted to their original demands. Georgians, unable to comprehend what the opposition want, are hardly able to empathize with their attempts to get it.

They’ve sunk into a self-perpetuating, insular muddle, with their actions winning sympathy only from within their own, narrowing ranks.

Opposition leaders are now trying to make the ill-health of xenophobic demagogue Zviad Dzidziguri, entering his third week on hunger strike, a grievance with the government. They are protesting the results of their own protest.

If the opposition coalition has any intention of capitalizing this May on the strong support it won in the presidential election, it is keeping the secret well.