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Possibilities of consensus for fair elections

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 10
The political process inside Georgia has developed intriguingly in different ways. The issue of demanding changes to the elections code is the most interesting at the moment. 8 opposition parties expressed its readiness to conduct dialogue with the ruling party and submitted their version of introducing certain amendments to hold forthcoming parliamentary and then presidential elections in a fair and transparent way. The ruling party however tries to while away time prolonging the negotiations as long as possible but the time has come when the ruling administration has to answer logically to the questions and demands of the opposition forces. Either it has to agree to those claims or it has to frustrate the negotiations, which is a risky approach because it proves the opinion of those opposition forces which think that the ruling administration is not prepared to conduct fair elections.

The existing elections code is very comfortable for the ruling power. If they had their way, there would be no changes whatsoever in the code. In fact the existing code guarantees decisive victory for the ruling power but, inconveniently for them, their friends in the west demand that they hold democratic and transparent elections without any manipulations. So far there is an impression that the government is only prepared to introduce certain cosmetic changes. The vivid example of such an approach is the issue of biometric IDs for the elections. This move from the opposition's point of view will give almost a 100% guarantee that there will be no fraud with the lists and nobody could vote for another person. The government did not ignore this demand directly, it said Yes, but brought the financial calculations proving that this move would cost the state GEL 188 mln. The opposition side challenged this calculation, saying that the cost of the project will be around GEL 102 mln.

There is another issue on the table as well. The officials in Tbilisi claim that there are 3.7 mln voters in Georgia, however the opposition challenges this figure claiming that there are 3 mln voters in the country. If this is true the expenses will diminish by 20% reaching around GEL 80 mln and the figure will decrease further still if there is no VAT to be paid. The opposition says that the ruling power is in a state of panic. It does not expect to introduce all the amendments but it wants substantial changes to be made. The opposition hopes that by the end of March things will clear up while the leaders involved in the negotiations state publicly that they do not want developments towards civil confrontation. However some radically oriented opposition members express their confidence that the ruling party does not want to introduce amendments in the elections code and that might trigger civil unrest.

Indeed, the ruling power is in an awkward situation. 8 opposition parties do not consider giving up at the table of negotiations. So any side which will frustrate negotiations will put itself in an awkward situation and would demonstrate its non democratic approach. So these are intriguing times and in the coming weeks we will see how it will develop.