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Opposition ponder their next move

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 1
Some Mayoral candidates and opposition parties commented on the local elections and their future plans on May 31.

“The results of the election do not give any opposition party reason to celebrate, but if any political organisation has reason to talk about success, it is the Christian Democratic Movement (CDM). We have obtained a firm leading position. We are in second place behind the ruling party and are going to fight with redoubled energy, “leader of the CDM Giorgi Targamadze said. CDM Mayoral candidate Gia Chanturia was the first to congratulate ruling party candidate Gigi Ugulava on winning the Mayoral elections, even before the final results were declared by the Central Election Commission. “I want to sincerely congratulate Gigi Ugulava on this success. We should all acknowledge that these local elections were a success for Georgia, because they were a step forward towards the development of democracy. I am ready to collaborate with Ugulava,” Chanturia said. Christian Democrat candidate for City Hall Chair Inga Grigolia said that the Government has nothing to celebrate. "The National Movement is celebrating victory now, but it has nothing to celebrate, as when the CDM takes its seats in City Hall a serious front will be opened by us and all the promises we gave Tbilisi citizens will be fulfilled,” Grigolia said.

Giorgi Laghidze, leader and Mayoral candidate of Future Georgia, also acknowledged the victory of the ruling party's candidate. “It seems voters in Tbilisi like Gigi Ugulava and the National Movement, so let them have these people again. We congratulate Ugulava on his success, however, I would prefer to fight a political battle with legal boundaries,” Laghidze said.

Petre Mamradze, member of the Movement For Fair Georgia which is part of the National Council, told The Messenger, "no serious violations have been reported on election day itself because the Government falsified the results several months before the elections. That is why the results are not been surprising for us. A lot of people who voted for the National Movement and its candidates were intimidated and told that if they did not do so they would lose their jobs, their relatives would have problems etcetera. There have been many cases of people contacting us confidentially and telling us this. There are three explanations for these results: 1. the three most influential TV channels in Georgia, Rustavi 2, Imedi and Public Broadcaster, are controlled by the Government and many people in Georgia believe the information put out by those channels, 2. Business is controlled by the Government and therefore businessmen avoid helping the opposition and 3. Georgia is a police state,” Mamradze said.

Mamradze added that he could not make any statement about the National Council’s future plans as one would be made after the leaders of its various constituent parties have met. However National Council Mayoral candidate Zviad Dzidziguri and leader of the People’s Party Koba Davitashvili said that the National Council will put pressure on the Government from the streets. "This was the most falsified election in Georgian history, great pressure and terror having been put on voters. We will launch consultations with other opposition parties on how to ensure pre-term Presidential and Parliament elections are held,” Dzidziguri stated.

Irakli Alasania, Mayoral candidate of the Alliance for Georgia, made an official statement late on May 31. "I respect the decision of the Georgian voters and I am thankful to all my supporters. I hope Ugulava will fulfill all the promises given to the people during the campaign. All those who participated in the elections have taken part in forming a new mentality in Georgia.

"The Alliance for Georgia has proved that there is no alternative opposition force and the most important period in our fight starts from today. We will fight to change the election environment and the development and advancement of Georgia,” Alasania said.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze said that a new political reality has been created in the country after the elections. "The main characteristic of it is that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, having been directly elected, has become an independent political figure. The results were not unexpected. The opposition should try and objectively evaluate their mistakes, as there are no reports of violations which would justify starting street rallies.

"Perhaps the results have been most painful for the Alliance for Georgia, as it had the greatest hope of winning among the opposition groups. The future of the Alliance will depend on how well it evaluates its mistakes,” Sakvarelidze said.