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UNM era over. Long live Georgian Dream!

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, October 22
On Sunday the newly built chamber in Kutaisi hosted the first inaugural session of the newly elected Parliament of Georgia. The Georgian Dream Coalition totally claimed 85 seats in the new parliament, and United National movement 65, hence representing the minority party.

The GD coalition, which itself was originally built up by several different political parties, will form in the total of three factions. A faction is a group of MPs (at least six) and the members are entitled with certain political privileges. One of the factions from GD will be formed by the members of Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, lead by Irakli Alasania, David Usupashvili and his Republican Party will form another faction and the largest one will be formed by the members from Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party.

There are six more parties which have representatives in a new parliament under the coalition list. These parties are: National Forum, Conservative Party; Industrialists, Greens Party, Social-Democrats and Party of People.

The UNM is also going to from three factions, one with MPs from a party list, and two others uniting members from the majoritarian list.

The inaugural session was of course attended by President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II.

The first session was lead by GD representative Ivane Kughuradze, who is the eldest MP and according to the regulations, the eldest lawmaker has to lead the session before the head of the parliament is officially elected.

Mikheil Saakashvili delivered his opening speech. "We are not enemies to each other, just political rivals" he said, referring to the new governing party and opposition in the country. Saakashvili expressed his hope that Georgian Dream will keep their promise regarding improving living standards in the country. "I call on the opposition to agree with the government only when it is right...but you should never be an opposition to your own country," the president said in his speech. He also spoke about future integration with NATO and also protecting Georgia's sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia. “We also have to work towards the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity and de-occupation,” the president advised MPs.

Georgian Dream representatives have mentioned earlier that they would try to amend the Constitution and relocate the parliament back to Tbilisi. Saakashvili spoke about the importance of keeping the lawmaking institution in Kutaisi, as this is "the part of a huge plan which aims to help everyone across the country to get engaged in the work of governmental institutions, by decentralizing them."

In his speech, the president also offered to establish a direct election for the post of mayor in Georgia's largest cities and also the post of governors and heads of local municipalities.

David Bakradze, the ex-chair of the parliament, announced in his speech that parliamentary minority will not nominate alternative candidates from their list to take posts in parliament. "We acknowledge that the majority should form the leadership of the parliament and the new government, and the decision will be taken by the majority of votes; there are many mechanisms we could use to make all these procedures more complicated and troublesome, but we are not going to use any of these mechanisms, we do agree that the country is now in need of a functional government," Bakradze says.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, a future candidate for a Prime Minister post, who was presented at the session as an honorable guest, does not believe that the UNM will re-gain the trust of the Georgian people. Ivanishvili hopes that any kind of confrontation with the opposition will be avoided in the future, as the new power is going to build up a truly democratic country and they (UNM) should participate in it.

There have been assumptions that the Georgian Dream would try to block the accreditation of Roland Akhalaia from the UNM, his wining in elections and claiming majoritarian mandate was questioned repeatedly. However, Parliament confirmed the credentials of all of its 150 members.

On the first session, lawmakers appointed David Usupashvili as a new chair of the parliament, with 88 votes received in favour, with none against. Also Manana Kobakhidze, Murman Dumbadze, Zviad Dzidziguri ZurabAbashidze and Gia Baramidze (from opposition) were elected as vice-speakers of the new parliament.