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19 April agreement questioned by part of the opposition, part of it remains hopeful for change

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Friday, May 28
President of the Council of Europe Charles Michel mediated the conversation between the government and the opposition which resulted in reaching an agreement. The boycotted opposition, although part of it entered parliament, is more skeptical and considers the possibility of holding early parliamentary elections to be the main point of the April 19 agreement.

On May 19, Euronews published a joint article by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and European Council President Charles Michel on “Georgia's future is European.”

The article shows how hopeful the European friends of Georgia have been about the April 19 agreement. The opposition’s entering the parliament would make the establishment will diverse, the parties would shift from hostility to cooperation and jointly carry out institutional reforms, the election process will meet the highest standards, an independent judiciary will be established. To sum up, Georgia could be transformed from a country of hybrid regimes into a truly democratic one.

Georgian Dream is satisfied with the agreement but blames the opposition bloc for being an obstacle in fulfilling the requirements agreed upon. However, even the opposition, which finally entered the parliament, has little hope for constructive cooperation and thinks that the most viable way of recovering justice is ‘dismantling’ the reforms that the government agreed to reach on April 19. The reason for the skepticism is understandable- why would the Georgian Dream voluntarily do what it had to and did not during the 8 years of its rule? The main hope, in this case, is again the constant supervising of the agreement reached by the EU. Part of the opposition, which considers the boycott of the parliament to be legit, says that Michel's document did not really favor the opposition bloc. As Anzor Bitsadze noted, the winner in the end is Bidzina Ivanishvili who got what he wanted- a multi-party parliament who, from ‘Russian oligarch’ became the man ‘striving to build a democratic country.’

The Labor Party remained in the boycott mode, which is also supported by European Georgia, however, the deputies who passed the list left the party and entered the parliament. It should be noted that some opposition members of parliament justify this move only by the fact that the parliament no longer consists of only GD members.

The main issue now is the decision of the National Movement, which, although left with a few seats in parliament and entered the parliament, remains the largest opposition force with 35 seats. Nika Melia, who was released from prison, noted the differences of opinion within the party and is taking time to reach an agreement within the party.

This is understandable, some even suggested that the disagreement on this issue could have led to the split of the "National Movement" into two parts. Nika Melia also arrived in Ukraine to discuss the issue and met with Mikheil Saakashvili. This, on the one hand, showed that there is no confrontation between them, and, on the other hand, once again highlighted Mikheil Saakashvili’s position, who is paying for the UNM’s entry t into the parliament.

According to the opposition members who entered parliament, the main task is to change the electoral legislation and ensure fair local elections where Georgian Dream is not able to get 43% of the votes. Many consider this to be an opportunity for preparing the ground for early parliamentary elections in 2022. However, it is clear that the Georgian Dream is doing everything in its power to prevent such an outcome.

Georgian Dream and the opposition in the parliament are already working on the new election legislation provided for in the April 19 agreement. “Election regulations are fundamentally changing, which leave no excuse for anyone to talk about any kind of manipulation,” stated Irakli Kobakhidze. Part of the opposition agrees to this and says that “fraud mechanisms will be completely eliminated - no party will be able to rig the elections and adjust the results to its own favor,” said Giorgi Vashadze, the leader of Strategy Builder.

The boycotting opposition remains skeptical. According to Giga Bokeria, the chairman of European Georgia, the electoral reforms will not bring any pivotal changes. “The essence of the election fraud and manipulation by the Ivanishvili regime does not depend on what Law says,” he stated. The main discussion on the election legislation is still to be held, especially if the National Movement enters the parliament.