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Just another party, or a long-lasting opponent?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 24
On April 21, a new party joined the Georgian political spectrum. Much attention was paid to the birth of Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, as its leader is Bidzina Ivanishvili, and his political movement/coalition has been the topic of intense media scrutiny for months now. While Ivanishvili may not have Georgian citizenship, he is considered the main rival of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

There are more than 200 political parties registered in Georgia, however, only about a dozen are active and any ordinary Georgian asked to identify the parties could hardly name more than half a dozen. Moreover, that hypothetical ordinary Georgian would probably just name the leaders, not the parties themselves, and say nothing about their platforms or values. It has become a tradition that parties are tightly connected to the faces of their leaders and parties generally emerge and disappear with the popularity of their leaders. The one-time governing party Round Table-Free Georgia, headed by Zviad Gamsakhurdia the first President of an independent Georgia has disappeared; so has the Citizens’ Union, founded by ex-President Edouard Shevardnadze. The political party Revival, headed by Adjaran regional leader Aslan Abashidze, also enjoyed a brief moment in the sun before evaporating.

Since Ivanishvili entered politics, he has become a thorn in the side of the administration, causing them to lash out against his popularity with legislation aimed at neutralizing his fortune and legally excluding him from elections. They have also attempted to paint him as a "Kremlin project" or a "Russian puppet".

The Georgian public is expecting miracles from Ivanishvili, a pragmatic businessman who had yet to deliver. Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, has yet to release a platform, and seems to believe that slow and steady wins the race. Currently, they are attempting to unite a portion of the opposition, with mixed results. Ivanishvili himself refuses to cooperate with some smaller parties, whom he considers to be playing the government's game.

Presumably, the elections will be held in October as scheduled. Georgian Dream is preparing for the elections by creating a political infrastructure, opening offices across the country. However, the summer is a notoriously slow period in Georgian politics, so they may be unable to continue the momentum they have now. As we say in Georgia, you should only count your chickens in the autumn – and the same goes with votes.