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Opposition consultations on election improvements

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, January 11
On Monday members of the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition held consultations on improvements to the electoral environment and discussed all possible solutions to the issue. Bachuki Kardava from the National Democratic Movement welcomed the debate and hoped that they would manage to reach an agreement. Levan Vepkhvadze from the Christian-Democratic Movement also expressed his hope that the parties would develop joint concerns over the improvements in the electoral environment which would finally ensure transparent and fair elections in the country. “We want to address every particular detail on the issue to prepare the document to be presented to the Government for further adoption,” Mamuka Katsitadze from New Rights told the media.

National Forum, the initiator of creating the 8-party union oriented on improvements to the electoral environment, stressed the need to involve young party-members in the activities started by their older colleagues. At the special briefing on January 10, Shalva Kiknavelidze, Chairman of the young National Forum encouraged the youth organisations of various parties to cooperate with the Youth for Fair Elections working group on convincing young indifferent people of the necessity to participate in elections. “This process would raise awareness of young politicians and encourage them to be more responsible about the changes within the electoral code,” Kiknavelidze said hoping that this initiative would receive active local and international support.

The Labour Party expressed its mistrust of the consultations among the opposition parties, calling it “self-deception”. Pointing out the main directions for achieving “real results” for fair and transparent elections, Nestan Kirtadze one of the leaders of the Labour Party stressed the necessity of ensuring democratic legislation, free media, unbiased police, un-terrorized business and the political will for change. “The Labour Party has participated in none of the Governmental changes achieved through violence because we are absolutely certain that the only way for such changes is through democratic civilized elections,” Kirtadze told The Messenger.

Explaining the importance of the electoral code and possible “dangers” hidden within its particular articles, Kirtadze stressed the need to ensure equal conditions for the parties participating in elections. “The Government team should be restricted in the use of financial and administrative resources. In addition there are several main regions such as Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Adjara, etc where the Georgian Government counts on its traditional 100% votes. So if this whole issue doesn't attract enough international attention we will simply have a perfect electoral code but all in vain,” Kirtadze told us.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili welcomed consultations among the opposition parties but said he would be surprised if they managed to achieve any “positive results.” “I have become familiar with the suggestions presented by opposition representatives during the last few months and I’m sorry they have just 2-hour meetings only once a week,” Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger doubting whether or not the opposition spectrum would manage to fully cover all the important issues even in their joint document. “Public criticism will undoubtedly follow, but the opposition should still try to seek real results in spite of boasting,” the analyst said supposing that “progressive steps” could only be achieved through a “revolution of the conscious” but worried that our Government is not ready to play on equal ground.