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Squabbles in opposition consolidate authorities2009-11-16 15:48
Georgia is in the middle of a pre-election scandal. It's not the parliamentary or presidential elections the opposition keeps pressing for. The storm is there for the municipal election that as politicians and experts believe will be epoch-making implying a revolution from the inside. But even here the opposition and authorities can't reach consensus.
As early as in September the Alliance for Georgia, a moderate opposition party, expressed its readiness to run for elections nominating Irakli Alasania as a candidate. Many Georgian and Western experts forecast his presidential career. However the closer the elections get - they are scheduled for spring 2010 - the more uncontrollable the situation grows.
As Georgian media report the authorities and opposition, or its ready-for-dialogue part, to be more exact, fail to come to terms. The sticking point is one of the core issues in the election reform that the authorities and opposition co-work on.
The authorities press for elimination of the "percent barrier". It means the one who will muster most votes will be the winner. Since the opposition can't get united and there will be no fewer mayoral candidates than for last year's presidential election (13 candidates back then!) the opposition urges establishment of a 50 per cent barrier.
According to the opposition the authorities hope having several opposition candidates that will tear votes from each other allowing a representative of the authorities to win.
It must be reminded that Mikheil Saakashvili agreed to this concession - direct mayoral election and posts for the opposition in municipal bodies - as early as in April. Then his opponents deigned no comment on the proposal. Each opposition leader had presidential ambitions.
After the first meeting between opposition figures and Saakashvili Way of Georgia leader Salome Zurabishvili resented over the attempt of the authorities to bribe their opponents. "Speaking to Kakha Shartva he (the president - ed) hinted at a necessity to hold parliamentary elections. In a conversation with Irakli Alasania he referred to his high rating and that he needed to wait a bit. He hinted at mayoral elections in a conversation with Levan Gachechiladze stating "Tbilisi is yours anyway". As autumn came the opposition became more appeasable. The protest sentiment went down and part of the opposition deiced to make use of the concessions that had been won. But now Mikheil Nikolayevich who realized his victory in this round of confrontation is taking time fulfilling his promises. At least he tries to concede the least of what was promised.