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Negotiations for the elections

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 12
The Georgian opposition has once again proved it is not united. The radical opposition is preparing for protest rallies while 8 opposition parties, together with some others, are beginning negotiations with the ruling power over serious amendments to the elections code. The aim is that the new code should be a truly democratic one once and for all. At this stage of preliminary contact, the ruling administration represented by the parliamentary chairman is most welcoming towards such moves. Of course the negotiations will not be easy and of course the ruling power will use every means to maintain its priorities such as financial administrative resources, law enforcement bodies and so on. The opposition parties involved in negotiations are optimistic, placing great reliance on the promised support of the west. The further development of the country will depend on the successful implementation of the project. The first step was made when 8 opposition parties submitted their suggestions to parliament on October 4, 2010. Following some statements and hesitation, the parliamentary chair, David Bakradze declared that the ruling administration is ready to start dialogue with those parties who want to be involved in the reformation of the elections environment in the country. He said that first of all we must identify what should be changed in the legislation regarding the elections environment, so that future elections are conducted better.

The first meetings have already taken place with the international organisations mediating. Chairman Bakradze thinks that the long complicated and subtle process will end with political compromises. One of the leaders of the opposition, Irakli Alasania stresses that this is the most important political process today.

Opposition parties involved in the activities believe that fair and transparent elections conducted in compliance with democratic standards will definitely signify the peaceful change of the current Georgian administration. They feel confident that western participation in the process will force the administration to make serious concessions, thus guaranteeing a real democratic elections environment in the country. However some opposition parties remain rather sceptical. For instance, Jondi Baghaturia, who has joined the elections code process, is still doubtful, saying it is an illusion to think that the Saakashvili administration can be changed with the use of biometric passports. As reported previously by The Messenger the introduction of biometric passports and voting is one of the major demands of the opposition concerning the election environment. They think that by introducing this form of voting many of the irregularities during the voting process will be eliminated such as the votes by missing persons or ‘dead souls’ as they are called.

Some analysts are also rather critical. There is no doubt that improvement of the elections legislation is a good thing, but when the opposition efforts are only directed towards elections legislation, the ruling administration feels quite comfortable. Negotiations on the elections environment have just started and it is premature to guess how they will end. One should remember that similar negotiations were held in the beginning of 2010 prior to the local elections. As a result the authorities managed to introduce some changes to the elections code that were beneficial to itself. This time the ruling administration will of course again try to maintain its essential privileges however the fact that the negotiations are being already underway shows that both sides are prepared to confront each other in a civilized manner. And this will definitely contribute to the democratic development of the country.