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Two opposing views of reality around the epidemic

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, May 20
The Coronavirus epidemic continues in Georgia and, as in other countries, has created a new reality here, but with two different visions of reality - one is the one of the government and the other is the vision of the opposition. Most importantly, these two perceptions of the existing reality are radically different from each other.

According to the government’s vision of the situation in Georgia, the fight against the epidemic is successful, the increase in the number of patients as a result of government measures is not large, and the country's health care system is successfully coping with the current scale of the epidemic. As for the losses caused to the economy and the population due to the restrictions, an anti-crisis program has been developed and it will help both the individual strata of the population and the business, depending on the country's capabilities. In addition, there is a schedule for phasing out the restrictions - at two-week intervals. Neither will the upcoming parliamentary elections be in danger, and they will be held within the set timeframe, under the new electoral system, which is provided for in the agreement reached with the opposition on March 8th.

According to the opposition, the situation is quite difficult. Authorities made mistakes in the fight against the epidemic, no mass testing was conducted and we do not know the actual number of infected people, doctors are not properly provided with equipment and no training has been conducted for them, which is why the number of infected medical personnel is very high.The anti-crisis program presented by the government leaves a significant number of citizens in need completely unattended, and those who help, the amount provided is insufficient. In addition, the government is using the anti-crisis program for election purposes and will use it to attract voters' votes in the fall and to fund its supporters. The opposition accuses the government of incurring a number of spending and procurement schemes in the fight against the epidemic. “The government is using the state of emergency to pursue political and corrupt goals and is already actively involved in the pre-election campaign,” the opposition said.

In short, the allegations made against the government are large-scale. In response, the government accuses the opposition of populism and hostility to the country's interests.

Authorities said the state of emergency in the country could continue for some time after May 22. The opposition strongly opposes this and believes that it will have catastrophic consequences for the country's economy. The opposition is demanding the opening of the economy and the abolition of ‘absurd restrictions,’ including the curfew. “Unless the government is not an enemy of its people, it won’t continue the state of emergency,” said Davit Chichinadze.

The opposition believes the government used the epidemic to make the parliament dysfunctional; it has stopped working. The ruling team found itself in a comfortable situation amid the constraints caused by the epidemic, it works in an environment where there is no competitor, operating without parliamentary control. The United National Movement (UNM) has said it will end its boycott of parliamentary sessions and called for a resumption of parliamentary sessions. “Ivanishvili, who is in isolation, has practically abolished the parliament,” the United National Movement said. The United National Movement (UNM) demanded on May 29 that Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia attend a plenary session of parliament. Opposition groups called for an end to poverty alleviation in the country, but for the government to address the plight of those affected by the state of emergency.

The Georgian Dream considers the accusations of suspending the activities of the Parliament unfounded. Mamuka Mdinaradze claimed that it has actually become more active in the sense of crisis and healthcare management and economy. As for the summoning of the Prime Minister to the Parliament, the Georgian Dream considered it populism, as Gakharia has to deliver a speech in the Parliament on June 1st anyway.

Opposition groups called for a boycott of the parliamentary elections. “We must not allow the government to adjust the date of the elections to its own comfort,” the opposition said. It seems that the government is not going to postpone the elections. The date of the parliamentary elections has already been announced - October 31, which was mentioned by the former Speaker of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze.

He said that if the state of emergency became necessary, constitutional changes would be possible in July. According to the Constitution of Georgia, parliamentary elections will be held on the last Saturday of October in the calendar year of the expiration of the term of office of the Parliament. However, the date of the elections is set by the President of Georgia no later than 60 days before the elections.
(Translated by Mariam Mchedlidze)