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Is a political crisis approaching?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, December 14
Georgia’s Western friends are urging the new government and President Saakashvili to cooperate. Many think that the United National Movement (UNM) is preparing its political revenge and that in due time President Mikheil Saakashvili will dissolve Parliament and call new elections which the UNM hope to win.

The maximum cohabitation period between President Saakashvili and the UNM-dominated parliament is 11 months-until the presidential elections next October. President Saakashvili has a very short window of time if he plans to dissolve Parliament-10 days to be exact. Those 10 days are from April 21st to May 1, 2013.

The President cannot dissolve Parliament without reason. There are two cases when he can do so. The first is if Parliament does not approve the state budget, and the second is if Parliament does not approve the government submitted by the President three consecutive times.

The budgetary situation is clear. The government has already submitted the budget to Parliament and it seems certain that it will be approved, which leaves only the latter option.

According to the current constitution the President creates the government and submits it to Parliament for approval. Saakashvili mentioned after the parliamentary elections that he would not exercise his right to submit the government. By doing this he showed his constructive goodwill and that he did not want to create problems for the new government. Instead Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili submitted candidates for the new government to Parliament.

The President can only submit a new government once every 27 days. So Saakashvili needs an 81 day timeframe if he intends to use this tactic to force the current government out of office. It means that sometime in mid-January Saakashvili would need to submit a government to Parliament for the first time. It is obvious that Parliament will vote against this decision. If this is repeated a further two times then the President has the right to dissolve Parliament and call snap parliamentary elections.

But how can the UNM hope for victory if (as a recent IRI poll showed) they have only a 13% approval rating among the population? It makes no sense for the UNM to try to win new elections if they lack popular support and administrative resources. Meanwhile the Georgian Dream coalition is continuing its investigations of officials from the former administration. Steps are also being taken to force President Saakashvili to resign after January 5, 2013 which is technically when his five year presidential term will expire. Three weeks seems too short a time to implement such a dramatic change but it's not impossible that Georgia will have a new president after the New Year.