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Prospects for a two-party political contest

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 14
Georgian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili's entry into the politics signified important changes in the political situation of the country and immediately changed the mood of society. Some analysts started talking about the appearance of a bipolar spectrum with Ivanishvili as an alternative to the ruling UNM. This month, the new public movement the Georgian Dream was established and its popularity suggests that a two-party situation is emerging in current Georgian politics. Analysts suggest that Ivanishvili could become the long awaited impulse of consolidating people in the push to create a really democratic system which could confront the authoritarian tendencies in the country.

However analysts notice some faults in a two-party system where there is no room for a third force which better balance the situation in the country. The situation now is that the ruling power ignored the existence of any opposition force and is totally concentrated on opposing Ivanishvili. The powerful state propaganda machine is up and running against Ivanishvili. Some segments of the opposition claim that they are the third party which could balance a confrontation between the ruling power and Ivanishvili's supporters. Different opposition parties have a claim on filling this niche. The New Rights, Labor Party, and probably the CDM are trying to make this attempt. Some analysts suggest that the country is at a crucial point now - either a fully authoritarian regime will be established in the country or it will be removed peacefully.

Some analysts suggest that the country is in danger of repeating historic mistakes. Since gaining independence leaders were removed forcefully due to the exhaustion of their democratic limits and the power of a newly emerging leader. In 1991-92 President Gamsakhurdia was ousted and later Eduard Shevardnadze was invited as a messiah but just over a decade later President Shevardnadze was then removed and people hailed another messiah, Mikheil Saakashvili. Analysts express hopes that this time the messianic approach towards the leaders will be changed. There is hope that the Georgian society will not allow the country's leader to be worshiped. One analyst jokingly suggested that he was pleased that people, welcoming Ivanishvili to the concert hall during the presentation of the Georgian Dream, did not start chanting "Bidzina, Bidzina" because in previous years people were shouting "Zviadi, Zviadi" for Gamsakhurdia and they still keep shouting "Misha, Misha". The cyclic emergence of new hegemonic characters upon whom all hopes become pinned is a specific problem of modern Georgia. History warns Georgians not to do that again now. Recent polls give diverging results on where the Georgian population's allegiances lie. The government will fight tooth and nail to keep its support. However, the difference is that this time it might be opposed by a consolidated force with societal backing which is getting prepared to challenge for power.