Why did Saakashvili lose?

Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively to VK

According to the Central Electoral Commission, the Georgian Dream party of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili defeated the United National Movement of President Saakashvili first of all in Tbilisi, where almost half of all voters live, and the voting turnout was very high. If the correlation was almost equal in the whole country, in Tbilisi it was 80% vs 20%. Mikhail Saakashvili lost the elections because he lost the capital. As the result, Georgian Dream gained 56% in proportional lists, while the UNM obtained only 39%.

The psychological effect of such a result is so strong that, even taking into account the victories in most of the “one-candidate” districts (where half of the MPs are elected), the UNM is hardly likely to comprise a majority in the parliament. Of course, this is if the authorities don’t take steps beyond the political limits. However, society, the elites and the bureaucracy considered the results of the parliamentary elections as “the beginning of the end.” And the security agencies are hardly likely to carry out any orders. Moreover, the president actually admitted defeat. He stated that the opposition won the elections flawlessly.

Meanwhile, billionaire Ivanishvili has already presented himself as the new leader of the country: he meets with ambassadors of Western countries, he urges people to calm down and proposes to all the members of Mikhail Saakashvili’s team “who didn’t commit crimes” to shift to his team before it’s too late. At the moment the most acute question is: how could Misha, with his energy, administrative resources, popularity among the population, clear program for the country’s modernization, consolidated team of supporters and flourishing support of Western countries be defeated by an amorphous eclectic coalition headed by an eccentric billionaire? Moreover, Ivanishvili couldn’t use his financial resources for his success: the Control Chamber dealt with that by shutting off all channels of financing political activity on the grounds of “the inadmissibility of big money inflows into politics and bribing the electorate.”

In summer every social poll (including those conducted by the opposition) predicted a firm victory for Saakashvili’s party in the parliamentary elections. However, these predictions were destroyed when, on September 18th, the country witnessed an event which changed the situation radically. On that day at first independent TV companies, then pro-government channels demonstrated shocking video footage of torture and rape of prisoners in a Tbilisi prison. It shocked society. People who know well the proverb “there is no fence against ill fortune” realized that it could happen to anyone. You can calmly accept a prison sentence as a fact, but you cannot help but fear what was demonstrated in the video, especially in the Caucasus with its aggressive homophobia. This psychological burst appeared to be stronger than any rational argument, any motivation, any prediction. It destroyed the whole construction of social intentions connected with private interests. It is obvious that in Tbilisi people who don’t suffer unemployment voted against Saakashvili as well, including state-financed staff. In other case such a high percentage would be impossible in the capital. The “prison scandal” provided the opposition with victory and took its leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, into office.


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