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Public, opposition can only speculate on National Movement plans

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 22
Georgia’s ruling party has thus far not disclosed its action-plan. Meanwhile, the pre-election campaign is gaining speed in both camps. As of today however, no exact elections date has been solidified. Presumably, Georgia’s upcoming parliamentary elections will be held in October. The national constitution dictates that the election date must be announced at least 60 days prior to the actual election. That said, the ruling party has yet to reveal its major moves– in particular, the status and plans of the president. Therefore, opposition members, as well as analysts and journalists, can only speculate on possible developments pertaining to the ruling party.

The election climate in the country has become quite heated recently, and not only because of the summer weather. Already the early polling data results that initially gave the ruling party a huge advantage over the opposition have been forgotten. This is mainly in light of the huge turn-out of opposition supporters that attended recent rallies staged in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and the town of Ozurgeti. The substantial turnout of supporters at these rallies has given some legitimacy to the suggestion that despite the instances of intimidation and the blackmail threats, the ruling officials cannot control the masses; citizens have overcome the syndrome of fear. Meanwhile, as opposition claims, the ruling party has increased its punitive measures. More of such cases have surfaced recently where opposition supporters have been arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs, sometimes beaten, and their property abused; the same has occurred with supporters’ close relatives as well.

The hottest issue however is the penalty that was levied against Bidzina Ivanishvili by the Chamber of Control. Ivanishvili is currently refusing to pay the fine, as he believes this tactic is unfair. As a result, the state has begun the process of sequestering his property. Supporters of the ruling party view this as a punishment for Ivanishvili’s political moves, whereas opposition supporters, as well as many neutral people identify Ivanishvili as a martyr. The legends about his charitable activities have spread and continue to grow among Georgia’s population. The ruling National Movement and the opposition Georgian Dream have already started the process of nominating their Majoritarian candidates. The ruling party does not have much of a choice– either Saakashvili gives up his presidency and heads the list of majoritarian MPs as number one on the list, or he remains as a president until his term expires.

If Saakashvili remains as president then his National Movement party must nominate a number one on the party list, as well as nominate someone for the role of PM. Both the National Movement and Saakashvili are facing a dilemma here. Journalist Ia Antadze believes that the party simultaneously has a leader but does not have a leader. On the other hand, if they nominate a new leader, it would create an uncomfortable situation for Saakashvili. This is the reason that the ruling power is reluctant to name their leader at this stage. Many analysts believe that Saakashvili will select someone to lead at the last moment . As one of the opposition members, Zakaria Kutsnashvili thinks Saakashvili will take an “all or nothing” approach as he did during the Rose Revolution. He wants an absolute majority in parliament; otherwise he will be a loser.