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The Georgian Parliament starts operating with a one-party system

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, December 23
The Georgian Dream denies the opposition's demand for early elections, saying they did not rig the October 31 parliamentary elections. On December 11, the parliament of the 10th convocation convened with a one-party composition and began to distribute parliamentary positions. Most of the opposition parties have refused to enter the Parliament seats, but the Georgian Dream hopes that a few opposition of them will eventually agree.

Only MPs with the mandates of the ruling party attended the opening of the Parliament of Georgia of the 10th convocation. The opposition was able to maintain the boycott regime, and despite the hesitations of some opposition members, no one entered the Parliament. On December 11th, the parliament session opened against the backdrop of a protest rally, causing inconvenience to government members as they were entering the building.

Left alone, the Georgian Dream began to resolve urgent cases. Archil Talakvadze was re-elected as the Speaker of the Parliament, and Giorgi Gakharia was re-nominated as the Chairman of the Government. He will present the renewed composition of the Cabinet of Ministers to the Parliament. In addition to approving the composition of the government, the new parliament will also have to approve the 2021 budget.

Although Georgian Dream MPs told reporters that they did not feel any discomfort in the absence of the opposition, the Georgian Dream leaders are well aware that the one-party parliament is negatively affecting their image. It is not only about the image. A one-party parliament will not be able to fully operate as it has no right to change the constitution. Several opposition members, including Mamuka Tuskadze, even say that if there are no 2/3 or 100 members in the parliament, new elections will be necessary according to the constitution.

As noted, the Georgian Dream has been putting serious pressure on opposition parties to agree to enter parliament. Some experts consider this to be the reason for the split in Girchi, Elisashvili removing his party Citizens from the rest of the opposition, and the departure of a UNM leader Grigol Vashadze from the party, which came as a complete surprise to the opposition.This part of the opposition explains the need to enter the Parliament for various reasons. For some, the main political goal should be to move the discussion from the street to the parliament, others explain that entering the parliament is necessary for changing the election legislation. However, much of the opposition remains in a boycott position until the Georgian Dream agrees to actually discuss their main demands - early parliamentary elections and the release of political prisoners.

Negotiations between the government and the opposition, mediated by the ambassadors of the European Union and the United States, will be the fifth round of talks. According to the opposition, the government is simply procrastinating the talks and does not attach serious importance to it, but should not act as the initiator of the disruption of the negotiation process. Lelo formally asked the international ambassadors to not only be facilitators, but arbitrators in the negotiation process. The ambassadors also feel that the negotiation process has been greatly delayed. "Now everyone has to take into account that time is running out," said EU Ambassador Carl Hartzel.

On December 15 and 16, until the fifth round of talks, which lasted forever, the boycotted opposition n parties t wrote statements one after another to renounce their mandates. This was done by the leader of the Labor Party, then by the Strategy Builder, the National Movement, the Republican Party, and the European Georgia. Other opposition parties have not taken this step, they do not intend to leave the mandates until the end of the negotiations, although they will not enter the Parliament.

On the main issue of the negotiations, demand for early elections, the opposition is formulating various options to reach an agreement. They are offering to hold a plebiscite on whether early elections are needed; to hold parliamentary elections in 2021 in conjunction with local elections; to hold elections in 2022, of course with changes in election legislation and election administration. So far, the government is uncompromising in the issue of early elections and considers it unacceptable. At the same time, it is doing everything possible to rule out allegations of the election fraud.

Georgian Dream is exerting aggressive pressure on the opposition. The main target of the coup is the part of the opposition declared as ‘radical’- the National Movement and the European Georgia, the two main opposition forces. They have been declared a destructive force, intensely accused of being pro-Russian and anti-Western. This part of the opposition makes the same accusations against the Georgian Dream, which, according to them, is ruled by a Russian oligarch, who failed the construction of the Anaklia port and succumbed the country’s economy to Russian influence and is moving Georgia further and further away from the West.

Now, the question is who the West will believe. On the one hand, there is the National Movement and its divisions, on the other hand- the Georgian Dream, which has been involved in politics long enough to be judged accordingly to its actions.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)