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A third way for Georgian politics

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 10
Since tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili entered politics, support has polarized between his Georgian Dream movement and President Saakashvili. However, some opposition leaders believe it's possible a third force could influence the election.

On February 8, while celebrating its 95th anniversary, the National Democratic Party (NDP) suggested itself as an alternative. Secretary General of the NDP, Bachuki Kardava, argued that politics in Georgia have been monopolized by similar ideas and tactics; the UNM with its state power and Ivanishvili with his billions, both of whom reflect each other in their beliefs and actions. He sees the NDP as different enough from his rivals to offer a real alternative to Georgians this fall.

Irakli Alasania, an ally of Georgian Dream, believes that small parties with little name recognition or electoral heat have no chance of winning seats. Ivanishvili recently suggested that opposition parties run common candidates in majoritarian districts, effectively glossing over the differences between parties and focusing their power on defeating Saakashvili's government. The NDP is not strong enough to take on the ruling United National Movement, and certainly couldn't compete against a single opposition candidate backed by Ivanishvili.

One does not wish to discourage a multi-party system, however, or the diversity of thought that comes with it. Yet Georgia's 20-year-history of modern democracy has not cultivated that style of electoral politics. Parties exist mainly to counter the existing administration; an opposition united against the first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia and ousted him out, then another opposition united against Eduard Shevardnadze's regime and forced him to resign. Now the opposition is trying to unite against Saakashvili. A system of constant forced regime change rather than of democratic power transfer in the fact of electoral loss does not lead to a healthy political system.

The NDP's pronouncement may warrant skepticism, but it is not entirely deserving of our scorn. For Georgia's future, ending the polarization of politics is deeply important.