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People take Republicans as distant relatives

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 20
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker and leader of the Republican opposition party, David Usupashvili, whose party failed to overcome minimum 5% threshold in the October 8 Parliamentary Elections, says the Republicans require “an image change”.

“We need to change our image. Some people regard us as distant relatives and we should become their close family. We must move closer to society. We will also have serious discussions about how to make decisions in the party,” Usupashvili said.

Usupashvili vowed that the Republicans would continue political activities with more energy and enthusiasm. We are professionals who can take risky and sometimes painful decisions.

The Republican Party of Georgia emerged as an underground political organization in then-Soviet Georgia on May 21, 1978, and campaigned for an independent Georgia, human rights and a free market economy.

However, the party’s leading members were arrested by the Soviet State Security Committee between 1983 and 1984 and imprisoned on charges of “anti-Soviet campaign and propaganda.”

In Georgia’s first multi-party elections on October 28 1990, the Republicans won 3 seats in the Supreme Council of Georgia and joined the Democratic Center faction which was in opposition to the Round Table-Free Georgia majority and its leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the country’s first President.

After Gamsakhurdia’s fall in a coup in January 1992, the Republicans were represented in the provisional State Council of Georgia, and formed a 10-member opposition faction in the Parliament of Georgia elected on October 11 1992, but failed to obtain any seat in the next two parliamentary elections on 1995 and 1999, respectively.

In 2002, the party forged an alliance with third President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) and shared its success in the 2002 local and 2003 parliamentary elections.

The party was instrumental in the 2003 Rose Revolution which forced Georgia's second President, Eduard Shevardnadze, into resignation, and played a prominent role in Aslan Abashidze’s removal, the man governing Adjara Autonomous Republic, during the 2004 Adjara crisis.

The Republicans ran independently in the Adjarian legislative election in June 2004, but managed to secure only 3 seats in Adjara’s 30-member Supreme Council. The party accused the UNM of having rigged the election and the dispute resulted in the final split between the former allies.

The Republicans were in opposition to Saakashvili’s administration until 2012.

Prior to the October 2012 parliamentary elections, the Republicans became part of the Georgian-Dream coalition founded by ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili with the aim of defeating the nine-year rule of the UNM.

In March 2016, the party left the Georgian Dream coalition and announced their independent participation in the 2016 parliamentary race.

However, the party managed to gain only 1.5 percent of votes.

Despite the party's failure, Usupashvili stressed that the elections were free and expressed the will of Georgian voters.

The party is obviously composed of professional politicians and it needs to discover the reasons behind its electoral failure.

One of the problems facing the Republicans is likely that the Georgian people believe the party is too liberal, and the conservative Georgian population remains afraid of liberal values.

The party needs to show the people that what they say and fight for does not contradict any traditional values that are healthy.

They need to assure people that their views can provide positive values for the country, and a Republican government would not mean a loss of national identity.