Highlights of 2012
By Messenger Staff
Friday, December 282012 was a very significant year in Georgia’s history. For the first time in the country’s modern history, the transfer of leadership in Georgia was accomplished peacefully through democratic processes. The past year’s highlights were marked almost entirely by electoral politics. When the year began, everybody in the country realized that it would be a very tense year politically. This was backed by the fact that in October 2011, the richest man in Georgia and one of the wealthiest in the world– billionaire, philanthropist turned politician Bidzina Ivanishvili– decided to enter Georgian politics. His very public appearance into the political life of the country radically altered the political balance in Georgia. Prior to this, the United National Movement represented what seemed to be an immoveable political force in the country. This all changed with the arrival of Ivanishvili and his anti-Saakashvili collective of politicians that would come to be known as the Georgian Dream coalition.
There have been previous attempts by past political entities to undermine Saakashvili’s Rose administration. However, these attempts failed miserably– most recently the failed attempt by former parliamentary chair, Nino Burjanadze, to overthrow the UNM in the spring of 2011. Nevertheless, every single attempt to shift the power balance was met with brutal suppression by the Rose administration’s political machine. In November of 2007 and repeatedly on May 26, 2011, the UNM used excessive police force to crush independent moves of the population looking for justice, fairness and the rule of law.
Once Ivanishvili arrived on the scene with his thrown-together coalition, it still looked as though events would develop in favor of the UNM. It was almost universally assumed inside and outside the country that the UNM would win the elections and Saakashvili would peacefully finish up his presidential term and comfortable slide into the Prime Minister’s armchair. The now former administration did everything possible so that this scenario would come to fruition. There was immense pressure on Bidzina Ivanishvili and his supporters. There were illegal arrests, provocations, the mobilization of administrative resources, human rights abuses and of course unlawful pressure placed on the free media.
However, Ivanishvili and his supporters managed to survive; he put together a solid team of devoted people and by the time the official election date was announced, there was undeniably two major political forces in Georgia– the United National Movement and the Georgian Dream coalition.
The Rose Administration then began to step-up its aggressive tactics. It started with financial attacks– inventing different types of restrictions, penalties and other punitive measures against the Ivanishvili team.
The UNM finally put its major reserve card on the front line. Saakashvili appointed Vano Merabishvili as the Prime Minister of Georgia. This was based on the fact that Merabishvili was looked at as one of the most successful ministers in the Rose administration, enjoyed a fair amount of popularity among the voting public and was seen as the “backbone” of the system.
However, the people were against Saakashvili and his team. They were fed up with false promises and his dubious actions, with their absurd projects and ignoring the needs of the entire population; with the UNM, democracy was merely a facade. Very crucial was the appearance of video footage that surfaced that showed the violence and human rights abuse taking place in Georgian prisons. At that time, Georgia kept a record number of inmates– around 30 000.
Various international organizations, like NDI and IRI published results pleasing the UNM, predicting the victory of the UNM. On Election Day however, the Georgian nation proved to the world community that they were mature, democratic-minded and a commonsense nation.
The entire population managed to overcome the sense of fear that dominated the country; and the people said NO to the pseudo democratic tyranny of Saakashvili’s regime.
The approximate proportion of the votes was 60 to 40 and as many analysts state with confidence, this 40% of the UNM was the result of the mobilization of the regime’s administrative resources, otherwise it would not have gathered even 20%.
Georgia’s western allies also took serious part in those fair elections. First, they sent an unprecedented amount of observers to the region and second (which was crucially important), they demanded from President Saakashvili that he recognize the defeat in the elections.
By the end of October a new parliament and a government was approved. In the last two months, the country has been busy correcting all the ill policies committed by the previous administration.
Everything needs improvement; the state budget had to be amended and accepted for 2013; economy, healthcare, education, agriculture and all the fields important for the country appeared to be in a disastrous condition. This became clear when the new ministers and new administration took their positions and took a deeper look into the situation. Now the UNM is occupied by criticism, demanding that the ruling party immediately correct and improve what they had been destroying for nine years. But the people of Georgia insist on continuing on its path towards democracy, despite the subversive activities of the former rulers of the country.