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Still no unity among opposition

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 4
Currently the most important topic of discussion in the Georgian media and society is the possible unification of the opposition parties. Time is passing quickly, and the general feeling is that it is unlikely that the opposition will finally make up its mind to support one candidate only at the forthcoming local elections. It is more likely that several candidates from different opposition groups will stand against the nominee of the ruling National Movement. In such a case any opposition candidates are doomed to failure.

The main player in recent opposition activities has been Irakli Alasania, whose attempt to reconcile different parties has been in vain as each of his new proposed groupings has alienated another set of parties. Some opposition parties still have an entirely negative attitude to Zurab Noghaideli, who is accused of being very tightly connected with Moscow and Russia’s ruling party, but Alasania has tried to find a way to cooperate with him. The various member parties of his existing Alliance for Georgia have had a public misunderstanding over this and some analysts think that Alasania’s image has thereby suffered. However it is still generally held, for good reasons, that Alasania is the top rated opposition contender for Tbilisi Mayor.

The parties which had previously announced they wanted to hold primaries to identify the common candidate now support conducting an opinion poll instead. However experts in the field think that such a poll would not produce a result which reflected the reality on the ground, as Georgians are wary of people asking them questions about their politics. The general picture is that the opposition is at a loss, if not panicking, and it will be very problematic for the opposition to eventually choose one candidate within the very limited time available.

Who are the opposition contenders? The Parliamentary opposition, lead by the Christian Democrats, support Gia Chanturia, while the Alliance for Georgia supports Irakli Alasania. The parties which wanted to hold primaries have no candidate as yet. There are several minor candidates as well, and some analysts still think that former opposition Presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze will stand. Gachechiladze has not confirmed this but according to analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze he has very many qualities which could be attractive for Tbilisi citizens, his conduct, style, relations, friends and so on, and these could make him a serious candidate if he agrees to run.

Though the ruling party has not yet nominated its candidate it will probably be current Mayor Gigi Ugulava as his image makers are running clips of him at least ten times a day on the various state controlled TV channels. Taken together opposition candidates have a chance of beating the ruling party's candidate whoever it may be, but unfortunately for the opposition its vote is more likely to be distributed more or less evenly among the several candidates.

However we still want to feel there is a chance of a surprise, as these are so common in Georgia. Pliny once said that "there is always something new from Africa" – now, for "Africa" read "Georgia".