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The wilting Rose

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, November 25
Six years have passed since the Rose Revolution which brought to power the current administration. During the first of these years the ruling National Movement celebrated 23 November, the day it assumed power, with some pomposity. Since then however the celebrations have become more modest, particularly since last year's Russian aggression. The administration still highlights its achievements, but there are plenty of critical remarks being made by opposition forces and the general public.

The events of six years ago were welcomed by the majority of Georgian people. The previous Shevardnadze administration had exhausted itself, people were fed up with it, and the coming to power of a new force was welcomed enthusiastically. It made many promises, but today everybody, including pro-Government analysts, admit that mistakes have been made.

Perhaps the biggest mistake was to fan expectation that big things could be achieved in a short period of time. President Saakashvili recently mentioned that the greatest achievement of the Rose Revolution was giving the birth to the chance of a better future. “It is now up to us whether we take this chance,” stated Saakashvili some time ago. Some achievements are considered by the administration as great victories: the implementation of reforms, the defeat of corruption, the European orientation of the country, stability, successful combat with the criminal world, lights in the streets and around the country, building roads and so on. However the opposition underlines the shortcomings of the current administration, including is Russian occupation of Georgian territory, the lives lost in the August 2008 war and the additional IDPs it created, the suppression of the free media, in particular the TV stations, reducing the standard of elections, increasing the number of prisoners, diminishing the independence of the courts, increasing the number of unemployed, violating property rights and failing to properly develop the Georgian science, culture, arts and sport areas while creating wider problems in the education system.

The most dramatic day for the Rose administration was November 7, 2007, when its democratic image was much damaged. The August 2008 events were the worst blow the leadership received, as they put Georgia’s statehood in question and undermined the administration very substantially, although the President survived due to serious Western support and US assistance.

As is known the Rose Revolution occurred because the November 2, 2003 Parliamentary elections were rigged. Both the opposition and independent analysts think that the quality of elections has not much improved since then. The opposition think that the conduct of the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections gave them enough grounds to demand a change of the administration.

The major accusation against the Rose administration is that it does not respect democracy. Republican Davit Zurabishvili has called its conduct ‘inhuman liberalism’. The administration seeks a virtual liberalisation while ignoring the problems of ordinary people. The achievements the administration is so proud of have not yet yielded much results for the ordinary people.

Many people in Georgia think that much will depend on how free and objective the forthcoming local elections are. People should have the right to make a free choice and decide for themselves who should rule the country. This is the fundamental principle of democracy the administration has the greatest trouble grasping.