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Georgian opposition at the crossroads

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 11
A new direction of one of the opposition party's plans was outlined recently. The leader of Labour produced a document demanding the impeachment of President Saakashvili. Several opposition parties have signed the document. With these signatures Shalva Natelashvili thinks he has identified a genuine and “decorative” opposition.

A string of events have weakened the opposition in Georgia. On May 26 their hopes to develop the country in a revolutionary direction were thwarted and the political parties led by Nino Burjanadze and Irakli Okruashvili failed. Meanwhile the political opposition group, the so called opposition 8, turned into the opposition 6 as two parties withdrew after accepting the government's terms on election reform. Now the opposition is broken up as follows. First there come the former members of the Opposition 8, the Christian-Democrats movement represented in the parliament, New Rights as well as some smaller so called one member parties. They accepted the proposal from the ruling power to introduce certain amendments in the elections code, increasing the number of MPs from 150 to 190. The rest of the opposition spectrum accuses these parties of signing a deal with the ruling power because they have been promised a certain amount of seats in the future parliament. The second group is the Opposition 6, the remaining parties from the original opposition 8 who were negotiating with the ruling administration on new terms of the elections code. The Opposition 6 was not satisfied with the proposal of the officials of and demand more. However, the ruling administration is stating firmly that it has stopped negotiations as it had achieved consensus with the opposition. The Opposition 6 meanwhile continues thinking of how to influence the situation in the country through asking the west to exercise pressure on the ruling party, which could force the administration to provide transparent and genuine elections. The Opposition 6 somehow is sure that the west does not want Saakashvili in power any more and would support the Opposition 6 demands. This does not really appear to be the case as there have been no signs of the west putting pressure on Saakashvili and his administration. So, the only way left for the opposition 6 is either to enter the elections race according to the rules arranged by the ruling power or boycott the elections altogether.

The third element of the opposition is the one which is not represented in the parliament, known as radicals. After the failure of May 26 they stopped speaking about a revolution but did not disappear from the opposition spectrum. In any case, they are not offering anything viable for the country's future. So, therefore the initiative of the Labour party might create the foundations for certain unity, the signing of the document took place on August 8, 2011 on the date of the third anniversary of the August war. Natelashvili names Saakashvili as Georgia’s biggest enemy and describes him as a dictator. ”Until he stands down as the leader of Georgia nothing will rescue us”, states Natelashvili. His initiative has so far attracted a certain number of politicians and political entities. The demand was signed by Nino Burjanadze, Sozar Subari, Kakha Kukava, Temur Shashiashvili, Giorgi Gachechiladze (Greens party), Levan Gachechiladze as well as representatives of the Social Democratic Party and the movement Fair Georgia. The drafters of the documents will be expecting signatures of other parties before September. Signing a petition does show a degree of unity among the opposition but whether they will truly unite remains to be seen.