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West disillusioned by Sakartvelo’s democracy16.12.2010 | 20:48
Georgia is having its moment of glory. Welcome the International Crisis Group's report on the country's political system. Contrary to Georgia's forecasts, the authors have made unflattering conclusions. Despite active democracy promotion in the Caucasian republic, even Western experts doubt that democracy actually exists there thinking that the next presidential election will show how justified Mikheil Saakashvili's excessive certainty for the future is.
"The government is highly centralized, both vertically and horizontally. Though the dominant UNM holds an overwhelming majority in parliament and local councils a relatively small group of insiders are responsible for critical decision-making", - are the non-consoling words about Sakartvelo leaders. But the authorities are not offended at the assessment made by foreign experts: the next passage seems to raise the Georgian president's self-esteem literally to the skies.
The authors of the report believe that the image Saakashvili put on after the August events in 2008 shows his position toward the international community to advantage. After Russia's recognition of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's sovereignty, the world has been taking pains to view the Georgian president as "the leader opposing Russian rascals", but it has. However, the Georgian euphoria did not last long, and the specialists admit that the lamb skin Mikheil Nikolozovich was trying to hide himself in without shame, is creaking at the seams.
And the reason is the coming presidential election. According to the statements made by Georgian government, Mishiko is still indecisive about the successor. It might mean that Sakartvelo president is aiming at the third term or that he gradually loses trust inside his circle. Becoming prime minister he will have to put up with the opinion of the head of the Caucasian republic, thus this has to be an apolitical figure.
"Saakashvili alone is not a problem. These are people who are governing the country in a non -constitutional way with his help. I don't think Saakashvili will want to stay for the third term. This will be a serious blow to his image as a democrat, and Western European partners won't support him. He's good at speculation, and he sells this image well in the West. I don't think it impossible that he will follow the example of Vladimir Putin. But it is also possible that the position of PM is prepared for another person. Maybe, it is secured for Vano Merabishvili. However, it all depends on how manageable he will be. Probably, the governing elite will abandon their myth about the democratic state. Knowing Saakashvili's nature one can assume that the selection will be made out of most apolitical persons that have no influence on the society", - Paata Zakareishvili, conflictologist and Republican Party member says sharing his observations.
The report features several figures that have all chances to become a new president of Georgia: chairman of parliament David Bakradze, current mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, education minister Dmitri Shashkin and even oppositionist Irakli Alasania.
If these are candidates appointed by the country leaders, the choice looks strange. The head of the capital of Georgia can't obviously be called apolitical - he is a representative of an ultra-liberal group inside the current president's team - the Liberty Institute. Discredited education minister Dmitry Shashkin won't have enough votes even at a most transparent election, and the name of Irakli Alasania, the oppositionist, sounds simply ridiculous. David Bakradze looks like the most reliable figure incapable of creating political groupings.
Our second interlocutor, Dmitry Abzalov, expert at the Center for Political Conjuncture thinks that all names above are nothing but a declaration. The real candidate will be in the shade till the election campaign begins.
"The names above can be an element of media confrontation. Usually persons that have no PM or presidential ambitions are presented for stove-piping. As practice shows, the successor is determined inside the clan, and I don't see any other way for making a choice. At any rate the strategic position must be occupied by a strong representative of the current president or a consolidated candidate. This must be a serious functionary who will be able to maintain agreements linked with the current president. But no one will name this person now to secure the media effect and avoid formation of a consolidated opinion", - he told in an interview with GeorgiaTimes.
Thus, has Mishiko a big surprise to make for everyone? By all appearances, Georgia plans to mystify the international community with the answer to a most interesting question for the next two years. So, does the country progress toward a truly stable, modern democracy, or will it deteriorate into a fragile, pseudo-pluralistic and stagnating system?