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What will happen after the 30th?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 27
May 30 is local election day in Georgia. In reality local government is not of great importance in Georgia. But these particular elections are being taken very seriously by both the opposition and the administration. They are not just about who will be governing different villages or districts, they have been given a much deeper meaning.

These elections should mark a new era in Georgia as they are supposed to be transparent and fair as never before. This is what the administration is promising. They will also be followed by Parliamentary and Presidential elections two years from now, so will be treated as a pointer to the outcome of these and a springboard for the long running campaign for these. The Rose Revolution administration feels quite confident and is planning to win all three of these elections, using all possible means at its disposal. Though this is a challenge for the ruling administration, it is attempting to win by committing as few violations as possible. The West is demanding this, as are the opposition, and therefore any abuses of electoral law are being conducted in a very sophisticated manner.

Actually nobody doubts what the results will be – the opposition are split into small bits and even the Tbilisi Mayoral elections are a foregone conclusion. The opposition could not even unite to fight for this post. So the results of the elections are not as important as what will follow after May 30. The opposition are excusing their defeat beforehand by stating that the elections are already rigged, squealing about the strange increase in the number of registered voters, intimidation, bribery, the use of administrative resources and the other sophisticated methods being used by the Government forces. They are determined to find violations everywhere and report each one to foreign observers so that they will denounce them as rigged. Some opposition parties also claim they will organise serious protest actions and even stage another revolution if the elections are, in their view, manipulated.

One serious problem which has arisen recently is that there is now serious scepticism about the extent and genuineness of Western support for Georgia. Some therefore say that a repeat of the recent events in Kyrgyzstan might be a possibility. Though Russian officials have stated that they will not interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs, who can trust the Russians? Russia desperately wants to change Georgia’s current leadership. How realistic this ambition is is an open question, but this possibility is frequently discussed.

The administration will want at least some of the opposition to accept the declared results, which may produce some opposition representation in local government and thus make it more likely that the represented parties will do this. Another possibility is that snap Parliamentary elections may be called, at the end of this year or maybe next spring, if there are protests. At present a new constitution is being written and this will also be a factor in the timing of any decision to call elections and the character of those elections. Everyone hopes that the current Georgian Government will not want to use force if there is any confrontation over the election results, but it is difficult to tell what it will do.

Much will depend on the elections and their results. Three days are left.