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Forthcoming elections: possible scenarios

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, June 14
Although there are four months away and there is no set date, the parliamentary elections have captivated the Georgian media. Even so, it seems unlikely that the results of the eleciton will be as dramatic as the campaign the United National Movement (UNM) appears unstoppable. The only major change to expect next year will be the exit of President Mikheil Saakashvili although with a constitutional majority in Parliament for the UNM, he could very well return to politics as Prime Minister or the Speaker of Parliament. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

The alternative is a victory for billionaire non-citizen Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream opposition coalition, which would mean a radical change in leadership and a break in the UNM perpetual reform machine.

Unfortunately, either of these scenarios might deviate Georgia from its peaceful path of development and cause civil disturbance. A victory for the UNM will undoubtedly cause members of the opposition to cry fraud; if their victory is questionable in any way, this could prompt more than just accusations protests, unrest, and the withdrawal of international support. Meanwhile, if Georgian Dream wins, there is some concern that the UNM will not hand over power without a fight, or at least without sabotaging the new government.

The solution, of course, is that all political forces - however antagonistic they may be - should learn to co-operate for the good of the country and the health if its democracy. Some analysts believe that if the elections are held fairly, the UNM will win but with a simple majority, not a constitutional one. If Georgian Dream wins, it is highly unlikely that they will have an absolute majority either. So perhaps Georgia will have a multi-party Parliament, one in which factions are forced to co-operate in order to get anything done. Such a development is not only realistic, but desirable for democracy and it will benefit the parties, too.

The last time there was a multi-party Parliament, however, things did not go as expected. It was in 2003, and a group of opposition parties brought down the government shortly after the November elections. This was the Rose Revolution, which brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze, and the late Zurab Zhvania. Now, Saakashvili and Burjanadze are on opposite sides of the isle. So much for a coalition.

Since regaining its independence, Georgia has only once enjoyed a diverse Parliament, between 1992-1995. But this country is usually led by domineering forces and even more domineering personalities it may be a struggle to accept a government that is not based around one person, or one ideology.