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In expectation of June 10

By M. Alkhazashvili
Translated by Davit Kipiani
Monday, June 2
Georgians expect by June 10, when the newly-elected parliament must convene, another day of confrontation over the disputed results of last month’s parliamentary elections.

It wasn’t difficult to predict this would happen. Weeks out from election day, all in the opposition said they had zero faith in the Central Election Commission, let alone the government’s sincerity in promising clear elections.

They have since condemned the election results, in which the ruling party took more than eight in ten seats in parliament, as the product of mass intimidation and fraud. Many in the opposition maintain that the president was not legitimately reelected; now they say the same of parliament.

There were futile calls for all parties to accept the results and shake hands after the elections. A magnanimous ending like that, however, couldn’t have happened when the politicians refused to shake hand before the elections.

As a result, the divide in Georgian politics is even clearer and ever further from repair. The government and the opposition—and their respective supporters—may as well have been seeing different elections. One end says Georgia passed a test of democracy; another says they’ve never witnessed a worse election.

But the government has far more control over the situation than the institutionally-powerless opposition. The opposition’s big plan is to physically blockade the first session of parliament; beyond that, they have few options.

The blockade of parliament is another in a long sequence of showdowns. It may also be the most dangerous. Government officials are making it clear they will not be reluctant to use force against aggressive demonstrators, or to round up and imprison opposition leaders if they sniff a threat.

If that rally comes and passes without incident, there is the opposition’s half-baked plan for an alternative parliament. In theory, it is a sensible platform for criticism of the ruling party. In practice, it will further undermine Georgia’s faltering crawl towards democracy by ingraining political confrontation on a fundamental level.

The trend is worrisome. By June 10, Georgia could be less stable and further away from democracy than it is today, and worse still than it was one year ago.