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8-2 = 6, but this equation is not solved yet...

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 29
The Opposition 8 is dead. Long live the Opposition 6. Nearly year long 8 opposition parties Republicans, Our Georgia -Free Democrats, Conservative party, Peoples' party, The Way of Georgia, National Forum, Christian Democrat Movement and New Rights have been together. From Monday, the Christian Democrats and New Rights withdrew from the union and signed the proposal of amendments to elections law suggested by the ruling party. This group had been known as the opposition 8 and its main characteristic feature was that it excluded any kind of revolutionary moves, suggesting instead the process of smooth transition of power in a democratic, transparent, fair and justly elected manner. Out of these eight members only the Christian Democrats were represented in the parliament. The rest were not although some of them did so by their own volition after they refused to enter the parliament, even though they were qualified MPs. This was part of their protest against what they saw and still see as an unfair election environment.

For a whole year, the 8 conducted negotiations with the ruling party over major amendments in the election law. There were two conditions deemed most important, the first was introduction of biometric identification cards for registering voters. This step would presumably secure the fairness of the elections as there would be no room for easy manipulation of voter ID. The second big demand was the changing of certain regulations in the election of majoritarian MPs. One of the major levers which the Opposition 8 exercised was a possible revolutionary development with further violence and complications resulting from the frustration of peaceful agreements on the amendments of the elections code. The ruling power was seemingly concerned and therefore it was not making any final decisions, mostly trying to while away time, watching the developments. The peak of the tension was on May 21-25 which eventually resulted in the scrackdown of the protest rally in front of the parliament overnight on May 25-26. The attempt at revolutionary change was suppressed. The ruling party seemed to emerge victorious and of course the biggest lever to force the authorities to make any serious concessions in regards of the elections code was lost. Once again the ruling administration became the master of the ceremony. Now they have been able to dictate the rules of the game and have finally suggested to the Opposition 8 its terms. The most important of which was the offer to give to the parties which would agree to these new terms GEL 1 mln in the event that they overcome a 5% threshold for the elections, to cover their election campaign expenses. There was yet another important issue and proposal meaning that the number of MPs in the parliament would increase from 150 to 190 out of which 107 would be elected through the proportional list (party lists) and the remaining 83 would be majoritarian, representing 1 mandate from different regions of the country. Two entities of the Opposition 8 - New rights and Christian Democrats have signed the agreement. They are explaining their decision with the fact that progress should be made gradually step by step and this is the chance to increase the number of opposition representatives in the parliament. Therefore, at least in theory they will have a platform from which to increase their influence countrywide. The rest of the Opposition 8, now the Opposition 6 refused to participate in the deal labeling the ruling administration suggestion as mockery. As one of the leaders of the Opposition 6 said they were not looking for money donated by the officials or a mere symbolic representation in the parliament. They insisted that they were demanding change of the elections code, not just a decorative facade. They did not ask for the correction of the voters' list, they demanded completely new re registering of the voters. As the Opposition 6 publicly declares that they are not going to surrender, they are determined to activate another lever for putting pressure on the governing body. This is explaining to Georgia's western allies, the essence of the situation and asking them to put appropriate pressure on the ruling body of the country. What will come out of it is not known yet. Will there be time first to adopt and then to implement the opposition's demands? Will there be any good will from the ruling authorities' side? So cards are on the table and the stakes are high. On one side it is better to have something rather than nothing, on the other side perhaps it is all or nothing. The situation is developing very interestingly.

It will be intriguing now to see what follows Tuesday's meeting of leaders of the Opposition 6 Our Georgia Free Democrats Irakli Alasania, Republicans David Usupashvili and National Forum Kakha Shartava and American congressmen in Batumi.