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Divide and Rule: Old Formula in Georgian Interpretation2009-12-30 16:14
Yesterday the parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the Election Code that globally ignores opinion of non-parliamentary opposition forcing the most implacable to refuse to run in Tbilisi mayoral election next spring. The plan to get radicals back from the street to parliament has failed too. But what the authorities have been aiming at - to split up the opposition - is perfectly achieved.
After massive opposition rallies in spring and summer 2009 Georgian authorities managed to beat down the protest spirit of their opponents. The pleiad of street politicians that recently demanded everything or nothing - resignation of Mikheil Saakashvili and Co - have finally divided in two: the implacable and the moderate.
Georgian president's proposals on modification of the Election Code have played a crucial role. First of all these are amendments allowing deputies who abandoned their mandates to return to parliament. Several lawmakers left their posts immediately after 2008 elections announcing their results falsified.
This week is the deadline for comers-back to parliament but until now there has been only one deputy - Freedom party leader Konstantin Gamsakhurdia - that made advances to the authorities because of "family circumstances". He took the lead in the committee investigating into death of his father - Georgia's first president Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
Secondly, the president invited radical politicians to join in development of amendments that would make the non-parliamentary opposition agree to run in Tbilisi mayoral election.
Up to this year the head of the Georgian capital was appointed by the president and confirmed by the city council - Sakrebulo. Direct elections in the strategically important city were introduced only this year, as a concession to the opposition.
The Election Code transformation was taken up by a group including some leaders of street protests such as representatives of Alliance for Georgia that comprises The New Rights, Our Georgia - Free Democrats and the Conservative Party.
When the draft was almost ready Kakha Kukava, a leader of the Conservative, stated in his interview with GeorgiaTimes that "the compromise" (as the ruling majority calls it) had failed, but there is a law that will lead to stronger discrimination of the United National Movement's political opponents.
Alliance for Georgia was left dissatisfied with a too low barrier (30%) that a mayoral candidate must overcome. It excludes a second round and increases chances of a candidate of the dominant party. Kukava criticized introduction of one-mandate districts and material advantage of representatives of the majority in electoral committees.
Besides, in the run-up to the third reading of the law draft in parliament the opposition stated the authorities were going to "puff up electoral lists of the capital" registering residents from other regions.
As a result yesterday the parliament adopted amendments to the election law in third reading, but with precautionary measures. From January 15 to June 1 2010 registration of residents in Tbilisi shall be suspended. The parties will be provided for budgetary funds to countercheck lists four months before the elections.
However the law retains provisions Kukava criticized. Contrary to the demands of the opposition they shall not be allowed as secretaries to district committees. That means that on the way to Central Election Committee the voting results will pass a level of districts that are under total control of the authorities.