The messenger logo

New prospects

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 23
After the May 30 local elections President Saakashvili, whose party was victorious, made various statements. Firstly he hinted very openly that he could remain part of the leadership in the role of PM. Secondly he indicated that the National Movement plans to stay in power for an unlimited time, quoting the example of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party which was in power continuously for over 54 years. Thirdly he stressed that big reforms like the ones right after the Rose Revolution must be carried out. The President said that the economic development of the country should proceed at a high speed as it could not otherwise catch up with the rest of the world.

Several times the President has said that Georgia should follow the example of Singapore, and sometimes he has also Dubai up as a model. Indeed Singapore has recently become a kind of Georgian dream. Ruling party supporters, analysts, research workers and political scientists have frequently promoted Singapore, a notorious dictatorship, as a model Georgia should aspire to. A recent article stated that reform took place in Singapore 20 years ago when it was just a dirty port and nothing else and today it is an economic miracle. 20 years ago Singaporeans were hunting rats to feed themselves, today their country provides humanitarian assistance to neighbouring states, the pro-Government Prime Time newspaper writes in an article entitled 'Road Only on the Right.'

Some voices are now criticising the European Union. Though officially Georgia still wants to join the EU Singapore has become its ideal, although some opposition-oriented and independent analysts have said that a hybrid EU-Singapore system cannot exist. It is impossible to match the Singapore economic model with the EU's, they say, pointing out that in Singapore the police are used to implement reforms. Singapore does not have the natural resources to feed its people but its Government does have the power to control them and lead them in the direction they want. Such a state is very attractive to the current Georgian administration, but EU thinking is that human rights are equally as important as economic rights and the EU will not countenance such behaviour in a country which wishes to join it. Giorgi Udzilauri headlines his article on this issue in Akhali Taoba 'The Government Does Not Want the EU'.

The Government meanwhile is absolutely confident and plans to pursue its policies with greater vigour. This confidence has been strengthened by its victory in the May 30 local elections, as in 2007-09 it was pretty scared by the mass protest rallies organised by the opposition. However analysts doubt how justified the administration's confidence is. The election results, though impressive at first glance, are statistically not so convincing. Around 49% of registered voters participated in the elections and 35% of these voted for the ruling party. This total includes an unquantifiable number of bogus, manipulated votes. 14% of the electorate voted for the opposition, 51% did not vote at all, so if the opposition can mobilise this 51% they can eventually win. The ruling party will therefore have to be very responsible to maintain its position, although the opposition also need to unite to become a serious alternative to it.

All these political games are being played against the background of unemployment, poverty, refugee problems and lost territories. These are big challenges, are they not? Ultimately, regardless of what theoretical model the Government wishes to follow, it will only maintain power by meeting these challenges head on, not fitting them to a theory.