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Arab scenario prospects in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 4
So far, the Georgian political establishment has not paid much attention to the developments in the Arab world. They have been more focused on Arab-Israeli developments. But recently the situation in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries has attracted the attention of the Georgian media. Some analysts try to draw comparisons between some of what is happening in the Arab countries and Georgia. Certain analysts think that the situation in Georgia looks much like the situation in Tunisia. The latter was a western oriented country with a developed tourism sector and claims of democratic development. However it appeared that it was only a facade in Tunisia. It appeared that the country was not having democratic leadership. For tens of years the country was ruled by the same people. It is managed by small groups of people who subordinate everything to their interest. These groups controlled the media and all of the important levers. The opposition was very weak and almost invisible. During the last elections, the head of state of Tunisia Ben Ali gained 90% of the votes; however it appeared that, in reality, people do not want him anymore.

A similar situation seems to be taking place in Egypt where the people openly state that they are fed up with Mubarak who has been head of state for 30 years. (Similarly, prior to the Rose revolution, the people's dissatisfaction was mainly targeted at the figure of then president Eduard Shevardnadze who had been leader of Georgia for more than 30 years. First, as the communist party boss of Georgia during Soviet Union and later as head of state of independent Georgia. We think that this was the main stimulus for people to come out into the streets rather than problems during the elections).

In Tunisia and in Egypt people came out into the streets of their own accord. There was not much done in terms of opposition propaganda. Some analysts think that this could be kind of an example for Georgian situation. On one hand it shows that it is not necessary to have strong opposition but on the other hand this should be a warning to the ruling party to take appropriate action. However we had already mentioned that the ruling power might prefer to have some unrest so that new parliamentary elections could be arranged. The ruling administration is sure that if the elections are held now their victory is almost guaranteed. There are two reasons for that: regular scheduled parliamentary elections in 2012 could coincide with an even more aggravated situation in the country. Social problems, unemployment and inflation could deteriorate badly and, on the other hand, today the opposition is extremely weak and fragmented. Besides, the elections code is not amended quite yet. So these arguments could be behind the possible decision of holding snap elections.

There is a possible threat as well that public protests could take place on a larger scale and could get out of control. So, nobody could predict what might happen if there were such developments. The best way however is smooth democratic development, introducing logical amendments in the elections code to ensure that regular elections can be held in a fair and transparent manner. When such a structure is in place, if the ruling administration wins, the opposition should have no doubt as to the fairness of the process and congratulate the winner and vice versa.