The messenger logo

Possible moves of the ruling administration

By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 20
Nobody here in Georgia doubts that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the country are of the utmost importance and this has resulted in a focus on the major directions of the country’s development. Accordingly local media is intensively speculating about the further plans of the current administration.

It is an unusual situation as the ruling administration and President Saakashvili keep repeating that the parliamentary elections should be held at their scheduled time in October 2012. The opposition and part of the population however remain sceptical and think that the ruling political party is already basically carrying out election campaigning. One can see how President Saakashvili is actively communicating with the population, shuttling around the country and opening hospitals in different towns and villages. However it should be noted that no one from his team is accompanying him on these trips other than representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare.

While talking about the future plans of the ruling administration the most important factor is the political fate of current President Saakashvili. His second term expires in the beginning of 2013 when he will have to step down as president. Amendments made to the constitution in 2010 significantly increased the power of the PM giving grounds to the opposition’s speculations that Saakashvili plans to move into the PM’s chair. This has not been clearly stated yet however, and there are some suggestions that he could just as easily be planning to become Chairman of Parliament. All these predictions will only become a reality in the event that the United National Movement receives the majority in the future parliament. In that event he could of course choose any position he likes and the West would accept it. In such case everything would look natural and democratic.

If Saakashvili is aiming for the Chairman of the Parliament position, we should not exclude the possibility that new amendments will be introduced in the constitution so that the Parliament Chairman becomes more independent and powerful while the PM’s powers are diminished.

There are two possible scenarios for how Saakashvili could become Chairman of Parliament. One is the possibility that Saakashvili resigns as President and heads the list of the National Movement MP candidates, thus using his personal image to secure his party’s success, in which case the presidential elections would have to be held simultaneously. The second scenario envisages Saakashvili remaining President and when his final term expires becoming MP from any majoritarian district.

All these possibilities have their advantages and disadvantages. As it is known, Saakashvili is the most charismatic and highest rating figure of the members of the National Movement, so if he heads the list they will have a bigger chance of achieving victory in the elections. On the other hand remaining President enables him to maximally utilize all the administrative resources to secure his party’s victory. Another serious challenge remains the National’s candidate for the future presidency. The most comfortable person for Saakashvili would be a tame, moderate character but there is a risk there that such a person would not be popular or strong enough to receive the support of the majority of the population as it has been established that Georgians prefer a charismatic figure as their leader. So this is a problem. At the end of last year Georgian Parliament hastily adopted amendments in the law significantly restricting the possibilities of using the huge financial resources owned by current opposition leader billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. Against this background the administration could use its resources even more successfully. For that reason some opposition members and analysts continue to say that the forthcoming elections are far from being fair. There is currently a crucial question on the agenda - Will the 2012 parliamentary and next year’s presidential elections be held in a democratic and transparent way? It is too early to know for certain, however much about the development of the country depends on the answer to that question.