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Ruling Party Faces Increased Internal Tension

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, April 12
The ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) has recently been divided into two groups, accusing each-other of “incompetence”, “making speculations” or “betrayal” of the team.

The disagreement in the ruling party, which has 116 MPs in a 150-seat legislative body, started on April 4, 2018, when several majority MPs supported the candidate of the minority, Ninia Kakabadze, for the post of the Georgian Public Broadcaster board of trustees.

One of the GD members, Gedevan Popkhadze declared he would quit the party, adding he was offended by the decision of his teammates to support Kakabadze, who is openly making anti-Orthodox church statements.

Several GD members, including the Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, slammed Popkhadze for his decision, saying “Popkhadze insulted his teammates on the background of religious speculations.”

This statement of the speaker was followed by harsh comments from Popkhadze’s supporter MPs, who accused Kobakhidze of incompetence and even voiced the initiative to dismiss him from his post.

In return, Kobakhidze criticized the MPs, saying they have made “serious mistakes and will have to provide explanations.”

Similar messages were voiced by MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the Georgian Dream faction, and MP Davit Matikashvili, deputy chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, with Mdinaradze reiterating that several lawmakers made “grave mistakes” in their statements, and Matikashvili stressing that the party was “governed democratically.”

Nukri Kantaria, one of the MPs, who criticized Parliament Speaker, does not exclude that the leadership of the party has made a list of MPs, who will be expelled from the party for slamming Kobakhidze.

“Popkhadze’s to leave the party has revealed several problems in the team. I do not know exactly how many people are included in the list but I must be in it, and around 4-5 other MPs as well,” Kantaria said.

However, another GD MP, Levan Gogichaishvili, says there is no confrontation within the GD team.

“The majority continues working in a regular manner. There is no confrontation. We are fulfilling the voters’ will. The Georgian Dream parliamentary majority will go on with its activities until the next elections in 2020,” Gogichaishvili said.

Expert Gia Khukhashvili believes a group of GD members, including Kobakhidze and Mdinaradze, have ambition to rule not only the parliament but the whole country, however, he added “they do not have any competence and experience for it.”

Khukhashvili says the confrontation is growing and only the involvement of the GD founder and tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili will solve this problem.

“This group of young GD members is waiting for Ivanishvili’s opinion. If he shows neutrality and says that he is not going to be involved in the process, I think the things will go even worse,” the expert said.