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Problems of cohabitation

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 25
Both political parties in the Georgian parliament claim to agree to the cohabitation model. However, on December 19 and 20 this model faced serious challenge. President Mikheil Saakashvili even threatened to dismiss the government; he retreated soon afterwards. There still exists the threat of a worsening confrontation.

The cohabitation formula is a new experience for Georgia. This was due to the unusual situation in Georgian politics when a parliamentary majority was achieved by the Georgian Dream coalition. However, they fell short of exercising a constitutional majority. The president’s United National Movement (UNM) moved to the opposition, but the president and his supporters still hold many key positions– particularly in the self-governments system.

All the governors are from the UNM; the constitutional court and Supreme Court are also UNM supporters. As such, there have been cases where the representatives of the different parties confronted one another. Georgia's foreign allies realized the possibility that the situation could become further aggravated and urged the rival parties to choose the cohabitation mode.

Georgia’s new prime minister from the Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, understood that starting the presidential impeachment process would damage Georgia’s international image. Therefore they decided not to lead the country in that direction.

However, the process of changing local self-governances continues. According to some data since the October 1 victory of the Georgian Dream coalition, 32 chairmen of the local self-government councils resigned and representatives of the Georgian Dream coalition took over their positions.

Various high-level officials in the self-government system are resigning and giving way to the representatives of the new government. Recently the UNM and its leaders declared more openly their intention of regaining power; particularly after various high-ranking members of the UNM were detained on different charges.

President Saakashvili became furious and he even gave an order to the police not to obey “illegal” orders. He also promised that all these moves will be changed very soon. “I am still the president of Georgia and I will not allow them to destroy the country,” he stated. The Georgian Dream coalition meanwhile carries out serious work in revealing the irregularities that took place in the country when the UNM was in power. The irregularities very often appeared to be crimes: abuses of the law and other violations, which are punishable by Georgian law.

PM Bidzina Ivanishvili is expressing his trust towards the moves taken by the Ministry of Justice and Prosecutor’s Office. The latter has detected many cases of where former high officials where involved.

Ivanishvili also stated that if President Saakashvili and his team want to hold new elections, the Georgian Dream coalition is ready to accept this challenge. Ivanishvili expressed his utmost confidence that if new parliamentary elections are held today, the Georgian Dream will win, but this time by an even more convincing margin.

Analysts mostly agree with this opinion. Many believe that the UNM and its leader Saakashvili have almost no chance to win the elections. Moreover, the UNM will hardly qualify for the 5% barrier, because after the elections the UNM team has lost much support– support that was previously augmented through the use of administrative reserves and resources.

It looks like Saakashvili and his team analyzed the situation objectively realizing they have no chance. Already, in couple of days, they retreated and withdrew their claim to try to hold new elections.

According to some opinions, the cohabitation crisis is over. However, there remains a lot of friction between the rival sides. Nonetheless, the UNM vows it will change its tactics and will soon return to power.