The messenger logo

Changes are ahead in Georgian politics

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 14
It had been forecast long before that a two-pole political monopoly in the country would not last long and would be disrupted sooner or later. Some prognosticators expected change sometime before the 2016 parliamentary elections. They were off by over a year… The first brick fell as soon as Defence Minister Irakli Alasania was dismissed and his party, the Free Democrats, followed suit and shifted to the opposition last week.

The main aim of the 2012 and 2013 elections in Georgia was the removal of the previous leader of the country Mikheil Saakashvili and his party-the United National Movement. It was an ordinary feature of Georgian politics-where voters vote against someone instead of for someone. Maybe it is comfortable for both-the Georgian Dream coalition and the United National Movement to keep the current bi-polar structure intact. These hopes and wishes however suffered a mortal blow.

So what will be the new paradigm between Georgian political parties? Traditionally, Georgians vote based on party leaders (mostly a charismatic personality) and not the party’s election program. Often, the promises that were made prior to the elections were never fulfilled. Another characteristic feature of Georgian politics has been the ideology of the political party.

If there is a normal situation in the country, ideological differences might be less important. However, when the country faces serious threats the red line between the parties is their political orientation.

There are two political directions and ideologies in the country. There are parties who support a western-leaning orientation and those opposing this direction.

The opposition United National Movement claims itself as a pro-western force that condemns Russian actions and supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Georgian Dream Coalition is somehow an unusual amalgamation, as it unites parties that have different political ideologies. Two parties within the coalition the Free Democrats and Republicans were taken as clear-cut pro- western forces. The National Forum also sees itself as a pro-western party, but it supports maintaining “traditional” Georgian values within the European space. When it comes to the Industrialists, they have never been distinguished for their sympathy to the Euro-Atlantic space, quite the contrary.

The Georgian Dream, which was established by the founder of the coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili, stresses that its course is clearly European. However, it is also striving to regulate relations with Russia. It can be said that the policy of the Georgian Dream faces significant problems, as improvements in the economy did not yield any progress concerning the country’s de-occupation. Moreover, Russia is keeping its claims to further reinforce its presence in Georgia’s de-facto separated regions.

The West was concerned by the fact that the Free Democrats left the coalition and moved to the opposition. The party was a major partner of the Republicans within the Georgian Dream coalition. There is speculation that the Republicans will also quit the Georgian Dream and create a coalition with the Free Democrats. It appears to be a major pro-western coalition that will refuse to collaborate with the United National Movement.

If the remaining parties of the Georgian Dream coalition keep the same course, they might turn into a more pro-Russian party.

There are definitely pro-Russian political parties in Georgia like Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement-United Georgia, which believes that to end the Russian occupation we should have direct dialogue with Russia and reject integration into EU or NATO.

Only after the major political entities identify their stands in the Georgian political arena it will become possible to see the real balance between pro-European and pro-Russian forces.