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Waiting for Godot?

By Messenger staff
Wednesday, December 10
The opposition is desperately looking for a leader to counterbalance President Saakashvili, something which first became evident after November 7, 2007.

When the demand for a new charismatic leader to mobilize the population appeared at that time there was not a wide choice. Since then however many former Rose Revolution supporters have moved into opposition and some of them are claiming its leadership. Most of the opposition are in fact former revolutionaries, regardless of their current labels. Only the New Rights and Labour parties have been in opposition throughout the last five years.

From time to time different Rose personalities are named as possible opposition leaders: former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze, former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, former Ambassador to Russia and Rose Revolution propaganda mastermind Erosi Kitsmarishvili and former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili. But none of these have been promoted with such enthusiasm as the most recent candidate, former Ambassador to the UN Irakli Alasania, whose star rose practically overnight as soon as his resignation from the Ambassadorship was announced.

Alasania is known to Georgian society but not to such an extent that he would automatically move into a position of leadership. He does not have a big political past, but it is hard to say whether this is a plus or a minus. Pikria Chikhradze from New Rights thinks that those who have moved from the ruling team into the opposition have a heavy burden to carry due to their previous deeds, but Irakli Alasania does not. Labourists however are negative about him, claiming he is still a Saakashvili administration baby.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks Alasania is not a charismatic figure, but his promoters New Rights and Republicans don’t want him to be such. “In Europe a charismatic politician is looked upon negatively. A personality-oriented political culture is not yet ready for democracy,” he says. Alasania has however attracted controversy. Some are convinced that him becoming the next Georgian President is only a matter of time, others think the fuss about him exaggerated. Some even suggest that Alasania has been inserted into the political arena as Saakashvili’s own project, a means if securing his post-resignation safety, though others reject the charge with the same or a greater degree of evidence behind them.

Alasania has not yet returned from the USA and has not made an official statement. Until recently the country has had no leader who is a credible alternative to Saakashvili. Consequently it is in standby mode, just waiting for its new saviour to come. In Samuel Beckett’s play the hero never appears. God bless Georgia. Let us hope the mounting clamour for all these rivals to Saakashvili will not turn out to be more Shakespearean: Much Ado About Nothing.