Opposition Parties Exchange Heated Words
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 12
Warring opposition parties got stuck into each other in parliament on October 11 with statements such as “it’s unclear where the opposition ends in parliament and where the government starts" and the defunct political grouping “the Opposition Six should apologize to the Georgian people for cheating them."
A member of the parliamentary minority party, the Christian–Democratic Movement, Levan Vepkhvadze, was most vocal in his criticism of the behaviour of other opposition parties. Vepkhvadze demanded that the Opposition Six should apologise to the Georgian people for false promises and criticized the former grouping for not managing to mobilize one million voters for the elections as had been promised. At the same time, he expressed doubt regarding the official reasons given for the break up of the grouping. The dissolution of the Opposition Six, which was mainly oriented towards changing the electoral environment, was a hint for the Christian-Democrats that they had made the right decision when they agreed to meet the ruling party halfway concerning the new election code. “The dissolution of the Opposition Six confirmed that the only right way for creating a better election environment was collaboration with the authorities,“ Vepkhvadze said, underling that making concrete steps is more important than false promises.
As expected, members of the Opposition Six were not pleased with the criticism voiced in the parliament from their opposition colleagues. Moreover, there were loud doubts about the status of the Christian-Democrats. “Unfortunately, it became unclear lately where the opposition ends in parliament and where the government starts,“ a member of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Gia Tsagareishvili, said. According to him, the aim of his party is not to allow the ruling party to win the following elections with 80-90% of the vote and then become a puppet in opposition as the Christian-Democrats are today. “As this position is already occupied by the Christian-Democrats, we are not going to applaud as well if we get such an outcome as the Christian-Democrats had in the Telavi majoritarian elections,“ Tsagareishvili said referring to a recent by-election where the opposition candidates were trounced by the government frontrunner.
After Vepkvadze’s statement and Tsagareishvili’s response, a member of the Christian-Democrats, Magda Anikashvili expressed surprise as to why a certain part of the opposition had apparently taken her party to be the main opponent for fighting when in fact the opposition spectrum faces a common enemy – nihilism. “Our main opponent in the following elections will be nihilism towards the opposition parties in society but not towards the United National Movement.”
The ruling party also rounded in with criticism, with a representative, Mikheil Machavariani saying “when the parliamentary speaker announced the creation of an editorial group concerning election reform, the government said there was no time to lose, on the other hand, the opposition started launching groups and coalitions which were mainly all about form and not content...however, form disappears and content remains.” The government argues that the agreement with those parties which sat down for talks with the government on the election code was not easy and that it was a process of compromise from both sides.
The government's and some opposition parties' agreement regarding the new election code is hoped to bring about an improved election environment but this is not shared by the majority of opposition parties, a certain section of NGOs, and most Georgian analysts who have frequently mentioned that those changes which are envisaged in the code are mainly profitable for the authorities and not targeted at real change.