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Further intrigue on elections

By Messenger Staff
Monday, January 26
In President Saakashvili’s public phone-in on Friday in which he answered questions from the general population he touched upon many acute issues which are important for the country. Among others, he spoke about the elections which are demanded by the opposition and stated very straightforwardly that there would be no snap elections, neither Presidential nor Parliamentary. Moreover, he expressed regret that he had resigned in late 2007 and held snap Presidential elections on January 5 2008, thus giving an extra illusion to the opposition that this could happen again.

Saakashvili justified his negative attitude towards holding pre-term elections with different arguments, the major one being that the Georgian people already fixed their choice a year ago and that during an election period a country goes through economic problems, as investors are slow to invest in a country which has election fever, and is thus consumed with uncertainty. He said that in 2008 the country has already held four elections (Presidential, Parliamentary, Adjara Supreme Council elections and two Parliamentary bye-elections in Tbilisi) and there were therefore no plans for further elections. So that is it.

The opposition, however, thinks otherwise. Labour Party representative Giorgi Gugava, in an interview with the Rezonansi newspaper, has asserted that the United National Movement has already started election campaigning. According to him the administration has “a special plan to rescue Saakashvili.” This plan envisages the holding of snap Parliamentary elections if people come out into the streets to protest and Saakashvili feels the situation is sufficiently aggravated.

Independent political analysts Archil Gegeshidze, Soso Tsiskarishvili, Gia Khukhashvili, Giorgi Margvelashvili and some others don’t exclude the possibility of the holding of snap elections but suggest different preconditions for this. They say that the major responsibility for ensuring new elections are held lies on the shoulders of the opposition, on whether it can convince the people to take to the streets and prove to the international community that it is time for new elections. If they do, the international community would then put appropriate pressure on the Georgian authorities, who remain absolutely unwilling to hold any type of elections, but have not yet been offered, or threatened with, everything which might persuade them to do so.

There is, however, room for yet another option. Late last December the President initiated the drafting of amendments to the constitution. Work on these is already underway. The opposition is already criticizing the drafts presented, so presumably it will take some time before any amendments are adopted, maybe 2-3 months. Then amendments will be made to the Elections Code, another process which will take 2-3 months. Then it will be summertime and MPs must have a rest! But some time in Autumn Saakashvili can appoint snap Parliamentary elections for late Autumn! Why not?

The election itself would be held in the most demonstratively democratic way. However huge administrative resources would be expended during the campaign – Governors, community council heads, police chiefs, regional prosecutors etc, etc would be activated and as a result the United National Movement would receive 30-39 % of the votes. The other 60% plus would be distributed among the opposition parties receiving enough votes to qualify for Parliamentary representation, from 6 to 19%, meaning another 4-6 parties would enter Parliament.

A coalition would need to be formed in Parliament which would be very ephemeral, forming various factions, splitting, merging, etc the whole time. So Parliament would work very slowly and with difficulty. It would also, therefore, take all the blame for what happened in the country. The President, no longer the focus of public discontent, would survive and we would have one who finished his constitutional term at last.

Is this not a fairy tale we might wish to come true for the sake of the country? Let us dream a little.