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Local elections give ruling party confidence

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 18
The results of the May 30 local elections have given much confidence to the ruling United National Movement (UNM) and its leader President Saakashvili. Its victory is total, as all the local decision making bodies in the country will be controlled by the UNM. The opposition could not protest about the technical conduct of the elections and Western observers and monitors described them as quite democratic, highlighting that there had been significant progress in this direction.

It is noticeable that this victory has significantly increased the self confidence of the Rose Revolution leaders and their party. We now hear them say more often that they should stay in power not only until 2013 but for a much longer period. Saakashvili recently stated that in Japan the same party was in power for 60 years, though this is not the correct figure.

President Saakashvili loves making public appearances and since the elections he has made some very important statements. He has mentioned the possibility that he might become PM after his Presidential term expires. The new constitution which is being worked on encourages such speculation as it will reduce the President's power and increase the Prime Minister's. The constitution is not yet ready but this part of it will be adopted if the ruling power decides that Saakashvili should be allowed to serve as PM.

However constitutional change alone will not make Saakashvili PM in 2013. First his party must win Parliamentary elections in 2012 and Presidential elections the following year. At the recent Parliament majority sitting in Batumi the possibility of the ruling party staying in power for an unlimited period was discussed. It was stressed several times during this discussion that one party staying in power for a long time is not undemocratic. Saakashvili underlined that not even seven years have passed since the National Movement came to power, while in Germany the Christian Democrat and Free Democrat coalition ran the country for 17 years and no one expressed any doubt that Germany had a democratic system. To reinforce his argument that his party should stay in power for a long time Saakashvili said that the development of Georgia might stop and the National Movement was the only means of preventing this happening.

The Rose Revolution leadership said similar things when it took power, only retreating a bit after November 7, 2007, the August 2008 Russian invasion and the opposition rallies in 2009. However its May 30 victory has given it the utmost confidence, and it is again talking about a one party democracy. The opposition are scared, talking about authoritarian tendencies and the threat of totalitarian rule. It is clear however that the sophisticated methods used by the ruling party to secure its victory on 30 May could be perfected and make its dream of eternal power come true.

The opposition are busy splitting, attacking each other and losing support around the country while all this is happening. Most one party states are imposed from above, it is rare for them to emerge just because no one knows who else to vote for.