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Can Georgian political parties cooperate?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 17
Georgia’s political spectrum has become extremely polarized during the current pre-election period. This is concerning to many within Georgia’s voting population. The Georgian church, as well as Patriarch Ilia II is also worried. Therefore, the patriarch has invited ruling party and the opposition to come to Bagrati Cathedral on September 16 and symbolically bring the nation together. The opposition has hailed this suggestion and on September 14 and President Saakashvili on his behalf requested that all political forces unite around the important issues in Georgia. Some analysts believe that the polarization that has occurred during this pre-election campaign is chiefly the fault of the current administration. Official bodies and the president have frequently accused the Georgian Dream opposition coalition in supporting Russian interests and have used strong language in doing so.

As such, it was quite a surprise when on September 14 President Saakashvili encouraged all political forces to become unified with regard to issues such as the de-occupation of the country, the integration into NATO, combating corruption and organized crime. Opposition representatives say they do not trust the president in this context, pointing out that it is he (Saakashvili) who has constantly referring to his political opponents as the enemies of Georgia and traitors. However, order to maintain his image of reconciliation he decided to announce his position. Recently, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president used the term “Leninism” in describing the situation in Georgia. Some opposition representatives have called the Rose administration Bolsheviks. The opposition organization Georgian Academy thinks that the current administration that came to power with liberal intentions, understands reality in black and white terms.

Both sides continue to follow the principle of “tit for tat”. Most analysts think the position of the president is a result of the advice and recommendations provided by Saakashvili’s Western allies and are simply part of the current election PR campaign. Some want to believe that it is genuine. Unfortunately, confrontation is promoted by some activists, which prevent the opposition from meeting people in a normal environment; in fact dispersal of opposition gatherings with physical abuse, throwing stones and insulting is a common practice used by these people.

All hope that this confrontation does not result in violence or civil unrest. In 2007 and in 2009, the statements made by the Catholicos patriarch have made it possible to avoid further civil confrontation. One can only hope that this time as well, the wise advice of the patriarch will be enough to convince both sides to stop this aggressive, confrontational behavior.