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Modest performance

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 22
On June 16 the Central Elections Commission published the final results of the May 30 local elections in Georgia. These showed that the opposition performed modestly throughout the country. Only in Tbilisi will they be represented in the municipal government, as a small minority, while in other places they will have no members at all or not enough to form an official faction.

The parties which participated in the elections on the grounds that their victory would end Saakashvili’s governance are now rather embarrassed. They have failed to fulfill their promise and moreover have become the target of severe criticism from the parties which boycotted the elections. Some of these even accused the 'participators' of collaborating with the authorities. For instance, Labour has stated that the fact that the losing parties did not protest against the results proves once again that these ‘pseudo opposition’ actually participated in a performance staged and directed by Saakashvili.

Political Secretary of the Labour Party Giorgi Gugava stated on June 16 that opposition participation in the elections was an attempt to launder the Saakashvili regime and legitimise it as if it were democratic. The boycotting parties, the National Forum, Democratic Movement-United Georgia and Labour in particular, are now boasting that their tactics were correct, as it was clear from the very beginning that the administration would manipulate the elections in a very sophisticated way.

The results of the elections have also triggered some other processes. The parties have started regrouping, as when the soccer season ends and players are transferred to different teams. Much ado has followed the withdrawal of Irakli Alasania from the Alliance for Georgia and there is much speculation about his future. The various parties are also still arguing about which is the most successful among them. The non-Parliamentary opposition claims that it is the real opposition, particularly those parties which did not participate in the elections. Some members of these parties have started saying that only street actions have forced the administration to make concessions by calling snap Presidential elections and the recent local elections. This fact should not be ignored, they say, as this process has been going on for 2 and a half years. Opposition parties and some analysts have said that the authorities have taken a serious step towards establishing a “simulated democracy”. It has bribed and mobilised large numbers of voters, created a model for how to manipulate the elections in the most sophisticated way and possesses the potential to perfect this model. It has also managed to create a small opposition inside democratic institutions like Tbilisi City Council, pretending that this opposition represents a certain portion of the public and the result of the elections was therefore democratic.

Analysts think that these elections were a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Parliamentary and Presidential elections. In fact unfettered National Movement government for an unlimited time has been legitimised by the results and the reception given to them. So to summarise, the lack of unity in the opposition parties, their lack of organisation and groundless self confidence have created a situation in which the ruling party is obviously the winner.