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Money makes the elections go round

By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 6
The new regulations hastily adopted by parliament at the end of 2011 clearly show how the governing majority adapts the constitution to its needs. This was evident in the essence of those changes adopted by parliament - that all money should be controlled by the ruling party. It should only be available for the ruling administration and perhaps some smaller opposition parties as well.

The local self governance elections in 2010 showed how money was distributed across Georgian politics and how it was manipulated. The figures are officially available and they show that during the elections the ruling United National Movement attracted and spent GEL 16 million. Out of this amount GEL 14 million was made up of contributions from legal entities. Compare this amount to the combined funds of all the opposition parties together which was just GEL 1.5 million. The Christian Democratic Movement, which qualified for the local elections running second, accumulated just GEL 683,000. Even a superficial glance at the figures shows that the environment in Georgian politics is very imbalanced. The rules of the game set by the ruling administration have created such a situation. In neighbouring Armenia political parties can receive financial support from the Armenian Diaspora around the world whereas in Georgia there can be no money received from abroad. As for the physical and legal entities who have enough financial welfare to afford to finance political parties, they will definitely finance the ruling party. The businessmen themselves do not publicise their financial activities, whereas ruling party representatives explain such support as a gesture of approval of the country’s economic policy. As well as officially registered money the governing administration can also use administrative resources, budgetary money which through simple manipulation can be oriented toward the pre election campaign of the ruling party. There is also the possibility of manipulating money which is not already allocated for a clear purpose.

Such distribution of political money left no chance whatsoever to the opposition in the past. But the appearance in Georgian politics of Bidzina Ivanishvili has given birth to the opportunity for opposition parties to get financing. At the end of 2011 more than GEL 4 million was transferred to the funds of opposition parties. This caused alarm in the ruling administration and they quickly introduced special amendments to the legislation specifically to create obstacles for financing opposition parties. As for the new legislation, there are now multiple details which create problems in the financing of opposition campaigns by legal entities, people involved in politics, their relatives, NGOs etc. It has now become prohibited to give presents, even to promise some benefits, to voters. So as it is known, money makes the world go round, but will it make the Georgian elections go round as well?