Much ado about nothing
By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 22The April 19 rally, which had been announced two months prior and had aroused many expectations, is over. Nothing extraordinary happened, although the United National Movement had promised many surprises. UNM members gathered in front of the former parliament building on Rustaveli Ave., made speeches and then dispersed. Luckily everything went on without any violence or confrontation. The space in front of the former parliament building was full with UNM supporters, though there were not many of them. According to the Google estimation there were hardly over 5, 000, despite UNM members claims there were more than 10, 000 supporters participating in the rally.
Georgian officials estimate that there might have been around 8, 000 people on Rustaveli Ave. Even the most devoted UNM members did not claim a large number of supporters. So in this regard, the rally was a failure. The highly promoted gathering was not attended by enough participants worth mentioning at all.
Slogans at the protest rally were also obscure and not convincing at all. In fact it was a lame attempt at rebranding the UNM, calling it the New National Movement.
There were old personalities trying to create new faces of the party. Their slogans said Georgia had chosen European orientation. However, this was also a weird attempt to present something new when in reality nobody either in the ruling party or among the Georgian population doubts that country is following the path to European integration, which has been announced long before the rally.
There was yet another awkward situation during the rally. Although it had been announced that president Saakashvili would not attend the rally he appeared and took the floor while the secretary general of the UNM, Vano Merabishvili, left the rally and disappeared. Some commentators used this fact to assume that the National Movement is collapsing and in fact the April 19 event signified not the birth of a new political force, or of an old force with a new name, but in reality this was a requiem for a dying party.
The UNM has proved during its leadership that it often presented their illusion as a reality. Trying to convincing first of all themselves, then some segments of the population and later, the international community, Saakashvili and his team were very good at staging such performances. However, this time it didn't work.
There was only one positive feature of the rally, and that was that it went on without any accidents. Who should Georgia thank for that? Maybe it was the police who created a quiet and comfortable atmosphere for the participants of the rally. Generally, it might be best to attribute the good behavior to the wisdom of Georgian population.
To be sure, the UNM's political existence is winding down. The party is desperately against appointing new parliamentary elections as the members know that they will never be able to receive even 10% of the votes. Additionally, it looks as if there are many controversies inside the party itself. However, the UNM can still exercise influence inside the parliament, but this is temporary and will not last for long.
The old king is dying. So now Georgia needs a new king to step up and fill the urgent need in the country for a new constructive oppositional force.