The messenger logo

Georgia moving towards elections

By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 13
Georgia is heading towards a new election cycle. As promised by the President the parliamentary elections will be held in October this year. However a current major issue is how fairly the forthcoming elections will be held and how the balance of political forces will play out in the end. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Georgia conducted several elections but it can be said for certain that none of those elections were in compliance with democratic standards. The ruling power at the moment is trying to adjust electoral legislation and take practical steps for its own interests, to therefore secure its victory. It should be said however that the officials always promised to hold democratic elections and claimed that such elections have been held.

Georgia has changed its governance twice during the post Soviet period but neither of these changes took place through elections. Georgia’s first president Gamsakhurdia didn’t “reign” till the end of his presidential term and was ousted after a military coup d'etat, the next president Shevardnadze was forced to resign after the Rose Revolution which took place as a protest to falsified elections. Eight years have passed since the Rose Revolution however all the elections held by the Rose administration have not completely complied with democratic standards either and as a result there have been no chances so far to change the ruling administration through elections. Their strategy is very simple: the ruling administration is creating the status of “enemy” out of its political opponents, associated with the idea of enemies approaching from Russia, therefore stating that these opposition entities want to return Georgia to the past and bring it under Russian influence. Just two days ago President Saakashvili stated that “vampires and mummies” will not be returning to Georgian politics.

But still, can Georgia create a fair election environment? The question remains. Some opposition forces during 2011 were conducting negotiations with the ruling administration about the electoral code and certain agreements were reached, however another segment of the opposition promoted revolutionary methods. The revolutionary segment of the opposition was cracked down on the bloody night of May 26, 2011. As for the election code, unfortunately it also didn’t achieve much for the opposition, though the ruling authorities did make some insignificant concessions. In autumn 2011 a new player appeared in Georgian politics, this was billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. Whereas before that the opposition was absolutely without funds, and therefore had no real chance of achieving any political success, the Ivanishvili factor has boosted the chances of the opposition to win the elections. This time however all the resources of the ruling administration (legislation, activities of Georgia’s National Bank and administrative resources) have been mobilized against Ivanishvili and his team.

The opposition are still grumbling, saying that all the new steps taken against Ivanishvili are in fact abuse of democratic developments in Georgia. According to opposition members the only way to achieve victory is to mobilize a great part of the electorate, if this is not the case the ruling administration will secure its own victory. So the chances of the two sides are almost equal at the moment. The next eight months will be decisive for the outcome of the elctions.