Three parties join Georgian Dream coalition
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 22
Georgian billionaire and political hopeful Bidzina Ivanishvili officially presented his coalition to the public at the Radisson Blu Iveria hotel in Tbilisi, on Tuesday. Three political parties have agreed to unite under the Georgian Dream banner, along with two political leaders; however, Ivanishvili emphasized that the door remains open for collaboration.
Our Georgia-Free Democrats, the Republican Party, and the National Forum, together with Ivanishvili’s team, make up the group. Ivanishvili referred to the coalition as one that, “from the beginning of April, will surprise those sceptics who believe that even the changing of the seasons is based on Saakashvili’s good will".
A platform, signed by all parties, dictated the goals of the coalition once they achieve power. The group promises to strengthen democratic institutions, promote state economic development, carry out negotiations with Russia alongside the support of the international community, protect minority rights and assist their integration into Georgian society, establish electoral democracy and democratic transfers of power, and ensure a powerful opposition in Parliament.
In separate speeches, the leaders of the parties touched upon various problems they believe Georgia faces, particularly a regression of democracy under the current administration. Ivanishvili emphasized that systemic changes are necessary, and that his coalition unites those parties “which are capable of such fundamental change in the country".
The leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, called attention to the development of small and medium-sized business, which he believes are under undue government pressure. He also highlighted the importance of the development of the agricultural sector, saying that it is "the most important and profitable [sector] for the country, which is being ignored by the today’s state leadership".
Davit Usupashvili, leader of the Republican Party, cited the importance of functioning and free democratic institutions, while Georgia's foreign policy was emphasized by leader of National Forum, Kakha Shartava, who believes that Georgia “should be the round table of the region – where serious regional and even international decisions would be made – and not just a rolling stone in the hands of powerful players".
While neither the Conservative nor the People’s Party are fully represented in the coalition , their leaders will serve on Georgian Dream's executive council. As the head of the Conservative Party, Zviad Dzidziguri, told The Messenger, "The coalition member parties were selected absolutely sensibly. The Conservative party is represented on the council and we will work in the regions actively. Our supporters, of course, will be Georgian Dream voters".
As Republican Party representative and member of the council, Levan Berdzenishvili, told The Messenger, "The coalition will not be changed. There will be four member parties only. [But] in the frame of collaboration, our door remains opened".
Majority MP Nugzar Tsiklauri maintained government criticism of Georgian Dream, saying "Their actions will [fail], as they are just engaged in making some illogical statements. We have our goals – to develop the state, hold democratic elections, and improve our people’s economic condition".
Negative forecasts for the party were also made by fellow opposition members. Leader of New Rights, Davit Gamkrelidze, stated that “The coalition will soon be derailed, as those parties inside the coalition do not share a common ideology". Gamkrelidze affirmed that he will not join any coalition, as "Unification in some coalition is acceptable to me only after the elections; [one] which would aim to form the government and collaborate".
Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili believes that Ivanishvili has made a smart move by keeping the door open to other alliances. Unlike previous opposition coalitions, Georgian Dream "is a serious and strong force. Standing outside the coalition, for some opposition forces, will mean a long-term [political] vacation". As for the initial platform and its goals, Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger that it contains realistic promises which, in spite of the current administration's criticism, are possible to carry out.