Opposition riding high with optimism
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 28
The opposition coalition Georgian Dream opened it pre-election campaign with large-scale demonstration. Thousands of people throughout Freedom Square and the adjacent areas participated in the event. The main priorities of the coalition were voiced by the leader of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Representatives of the coalition estimated the number of people attending was more than 100, 000 people. Based on the reports of various media outlets, there were nearly 110, 000 and some media outlets claim there were 250, 000- 300, 000 people in attendance. Some pointed to this large turnout as a reflection of the will of Georgian society to change the current leadership in Georgia.
The head of the coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili underscored the fact that the upcoming elections are a decision for the state, “it is the issue of the state’s being or not being... for to achieve success, only wishes, hard work- even selflessness are not enough. A well-considered and clear plan is necessary that links all the above mentioned intentions,” Ivanishvili said, and explained that considering the issues from the beginning to end, as well as their planning, is a natural feature for him. He also stated that everything is progressing as he had planned since joining the political fray.
“It is not my aim to defeat anyone; my aim is Georgia’s victory. Georgians are not afraid of Saakashvili, there is nihilism in society, as several times the opposition has not justified their hopes, but it will not be repeated.”
As for concrete intentions, Ivanishvili has stated that his team has detailed plans and programs designed for Georgia’s development in all directions. He has emphasized that all Georgians will have free insurance, pensioners will be ensured a respectable pension, and employment will also be one of the main state issues, especially youth employment. In order to minimalize the flow of emigration, he stated that available education, acceptable working environments and income for teachers will need to be addressed for each citizen. Ivanishvili also touched on supporting the development of agriculture, peaceful reintegration of the state and the creation of a European-like state that is acceptable to all.
The coalition states that they will be significantly more active after this and another demonstration will be held in Kutaisi on June 7. As the head of the party Georgian Dream –Democratic Georgia party member, Manana Kobakhidze, said that such huge support towards the Georgian Dream on May 27, provided the greatest symbolic “no“ to the current regime. According to Free Democrats party member, Zurab Abashidze, no stadium will be large enough to house so many citizens, “[this represents]one more sign that we will win the elections.” Davit Usupashvili, Head of the Republican Party shared Abashidze’s optimism: “[These] demonstrations revealed the future winner of the parliamentary elections.”
The event was perceived differently by the current Georgian government. As the Majority Representative, Nugzar Tsiklauri stated that the event has once again revealed that Ivanishvili is an “old fashioned, Soviet era figure.” He underlined that the demonstration was full of outdated ideas and aspirations: “He [Ivanishvili] is really a Soviet-period idol, who was financing the state enemy. I have seen Nino Burjanadze (former parliamentary speaker and the chair of the opposition Democratic Movement United Georgia), as well as Levan Gachechiladze (one of the opposition leaders and former presidential candidate) at the demonstration, and one more time [I am] persuaded [that] nothing has changed in the opposition field.” Tsiklauri also stated that the fact that Ivanishvili was allowed to hold the demonstration was a sign of Georgia’s democratic development.
Both, Gachechiladze and Burjanadze mentioned that they attended the rally as ordinary citizens as. According to them, each Georgian must express its negative attitude towards the current government.
As a political analyst, Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, the manifestation was a different event in modern Georgian history, due to its content and the number of people. “It was impressive and different from the organizational, performance and content aspect. It can be said that it is the first in Georgian history. The greatest part of [demonstration] was that various opposition representatives participated in the event, despite their attitudes. As for the number of people, during the last 25 years I have not seen such a dense [crowd] attend a demonstration. There also the representatives present from the regions as well, when there was not such appeal from the coalition side.” Concerning the authorities assessments, the analyst said that “Lenin style is more typical to the current Georgian government.”