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Between elections and revolution

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 29
Georgia is approaching important times as it will hold parliamentary elections in 2012 and presidential elections in 2013. Presumably, the main priorities for future development should be outlined by the time the elections are held. Methods of development however are limited to 3 directions. The first is promoted by the current ruling party which wants to stay in power and therefore will do everything to preserve this privilege. The second way is supported by the so called radical opposition and it promotes revolutionary change. Finally, the third way encouraged by the so called constructive opposition is to hold fair elections transparently which would eventually secure the change of ruling power. The first direction is of course the most likely. Everything is done to prolong the presence of the National Movement at the top. The constitution has been adopted in such a way that when the term of President Saakashvili expires he will move into the PM’s position. According to the new constitution, the PM will hold the essential levers to rule the country, currently at the disposal of the President. There is another possibility which is that Saakashvili could become Chair of the Parliament. Though to implement these plans, the 2012 parliamentary elections would need to be won by the National Movement with an overwhelming constitutional majority. This would enable them to introduce as many changes in the constitution as required and thus secure its leading position for a longer period of time.

Analysts suggest that the Rose revolution administration is planning exactly this type of scenario but will continue to present their actions under the guise of “democratic standards” to show to its western friends and supporters. For this purpose the ruling power is conducting negotiations on the elections code with the opposition parties and some analysts predict that certain cosmetic changes will happen with the consent of ruling power.

The entire opposition spectrum is unanimous in evaluating the current situation as authoritarian, insisting that that in practice the holding of elections is far from democratic. However, action plans suggested by two types of opposition are different. The radical opposition thinks that it is impossible to achieve democratic elections under the Saakashvili administration and therefore see revolution as inevitable. The Georgian party, Public Assembly and others plan to commence sustained protests very soon.

However it is very difficult to plan a revolution because this needs the ultimate support of the majority of the population. It is unclear whether the massive protest actions supported by the opposition in the streets will be substantial enough for the government to consider its position. The massive protest action in 2007-09 proved that Saakashvili and his team will not give up easily and will not "go home" like Shevardnadze did. It will try to resist and remain in power, by all possible and hopefully legal means. There is one thing to be remembered however, that the Georgian leadership, after it regained its independence in 1991, has been changed twice and both times in a revolutionary way. It can be a very brutal and costly practice, but it has happened before. Many of the opposition in the political spectrum have condemned the possibility of revolution. There is a threat of a poorer leadership coming into power according to some opposition representatives and indeed revolutionary developments might bring very serious problems to the country. Its image as a more or less stable state will be damaged and destroyed, it will fail in its bid to join NATO or EU and many more unpleasant complications and developments might appear. The opposition parties which think that changes could be achieved through the elections are strongly demanding from the west to support fair elections in Georgia. They advise Georgia’s western friends to put pressure on the ruling administration in Georgia and force it to conduct just elections, but for this purpose necessary amendments should be introduced timely in the elections code. This opposition parties are sure that in the event of fair elections with no manipulations, the ruling power in Georgia would be changed or at least it would not receive an overwhelming majority in parliament.

Georgian opposition members think that some remarks and statements made by US or European individuals are hints that Georgia's western friends want the elections to be conduced fairly. Those statements are interpreted differently in Georgia. The opposition thinks that these statements mean that the west supports the idea of changing the ruling power in Georgia. However the authorities believe that it is possible to achieve a solution with some minor adjustments thus cooling the concerns of their western friends.

It is become more intriguing as the weeks and months pass. Will the west put serious pressure to force the ruling administration to conduct truly fair elections or will current authorities manage to once again cheat the international community and the people of Georgia and bring it into revolutionary chaos? This is what some of the opposition and curious analysts are asking.