'Georgian Dream' starts to burn

It will be incredibly difficult for Bidzine Ivanishvili to find a way out of a very bad situation
It will be incredibly difficult for Bidzine Ivanishvili to find a way out of a very bad situation

Tbilisi has become a trouble spot again. The opposition traditionally blocked the Rustaveli Avenue, refusing to unblock it until the requirements adopted at a general meeting of opponents of the Georgian Dream ruling party in the Labor Party office are met. There are two requirements so far: the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and the early parliamentary elections under the proportional voting system.

The situation escalated sharply after the parliament failed to pass the constitutional amendments to conduct Georgia's 2020 parliamentary elections with a fully proportional voting system, completely abandoning the majority system. 12 votes more were needed. Thus, the promise of the chairman of the Georgian Dream ruling party Bidzina Ivanishvili, given to the society during the summer protests, was not fulfilled - the authorities will hold elections under the current majority-proportional system. The opposition and civic activists announced that they got slapped by Ivanishvili and they will not forgive it - the informal rule of the oligarch will come to an end.

What happened in the ruling party's camp? It's a well known fact that it's not going that well in its ranks - internal party contradictions periodically spilled out and were made public. But now a group of majority deputies, the existence of which wasn't obvious for many people outside the party, went rebel. One of them, Dimitri Khundadze, shortly before the vote, told reporters that he would seek internal party consultations to tell his colleagues about the dangers to the state lurking in a proportional voting system. Then the vote in parliament was postponed for the first time.

Of course, the MPs who sensed the “danger” provided no clear explanation at the internal party meeting, and were called upon to observe party discipline, that is, vote for the adoption of constitutional amendments. However, the leaders of the Georgian Dream, having caught the mood of Khundadze and the company, postponed the vote once more time, hoping that another meeting with Ivanishvili would make meaning perfectly plain. Yesterday's events showed that these hopes have not been realized. As already mentioned, the ruling party lacked 12 votes, and now the situation in Tbilisi has become unpredictable.

What is the reason for such a split of the party, especially initiated by those who were considered an impersonal component of the ruling party, and no one knows how they entered its ranks and parliament?

Version 1. Bidzina Ivanishvili did not dare to move to a proportional voting system, fearing failure, and decided to win back the situation, using a "faceless mass" absolutely devoted to him, or rather, maintain an electoral system that would suit the authorities, which in fact has always ensured success for majoritarian candidates.

Pro: The rebellious majorities would never dare to argue with the powerful party leader by themselves, who is able to deprive them of everything that they have.

Contra: Bidzina Ivanishvili does not need new problems with the opposition and civil society, he doesn’t want to aggravate the situation, since the society has once again become disillusioned with the opposition after the summer protests, its popularity has gone downward, however, together with the rating of the Georgian Dream. Nevertheless, numerous polls predicted the Georgian Dream's victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections under a proportional system, if not as outstanding as provided by a constitutional majority in the new parliament now.

Version 2. The rebellious majorities were "bought" - either by the opposition or by external players.

Pro: Excessive adherence to principles in defending one’s opinion, and the rebellious majorities have never been accused of that before, is the betrayal of their party at a historically important political moment.

Contra: Who is able to beat Bidzina Ivanishvili’s proposal? Which external players would need an internal political aggravation in Georgia? These are not visible. The West realized that the Georgian Dream is not a pro-Russian force, although the opposition, in the person of the former government - the United National Movement, is trying to convince the whole world and internal audience. And with the current regional and global situation, there are enough problems and without destabilization in Georgia. No political center would want it. Including Moscow, which received, albeit uncompliant in political matters, but on the whole a predictable and calm neighbor, instead of unbalanced Saakashvili. 

Version 3. The rebellious majorities did not find their names on the Georgian Dream party list, which was formed for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Realizing that there was nothing to lose, not thinking about the consequences, they clung to their own well-being, trying to defend it at all costs.

Pro: A sudden "rebellion" happened after a couple of years of work under the supervision of Tbilisi Mayor Kakhi Kaladze. That's when a group of "majorities" suddenly began to see clearly and, overshadowed by the perceived state dangers, has started to seek a rejection of constitutional amendments.

Contra: Even if the elections are held under the current majority-proportional system in 2020, i.e. with "opportunists" achieving their goal; there is no guarantee that they will be the majority candidates for election to parliament from the "Georgian Dream". Another situation is more likely - Ivanishvili will make them pay for self-will and let them go, easily replacing them.

Despite all the pros and cons, the third version seems to be the most likely one. Having actually seen themselves overboard of the election campaign, or rather, outside the walls of the future parliament, a group of majorities decided either to annoy the Georgian Dream and those who made the decision on the party list, or simply “lashed out”, not even understanding the situation in the country and having no idea what consequences their stubbornness may have.

It is very difficult to predict the course of events in Georgia. One thing is clear - it will be incredibly difficult for Bidzine Ivanishvili to find a way out of a very bad situation, when he looks like a political liar or a scammer - the public and political forces are really offended and will achieve their goal with more energy and perseverance than in the summer.

On the other hand, if Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream were preparing for the elections under a proportional system, then in order to avoid a sharp political confrontation and demonstrate that all the mess was made by a group of irresponsible deputies, concerned exclusively with personal issues, and he was ready to fulfill his promise, the ruling the party and its leader may dissolve the parliament and announce early elections under a proportional system. But at the same time they will surely try to preserve valuable for them Georgy Gakharia as prime minister.

However, in this case the question arises - how will this scenario be combined with the Georgian Constitution, which says that the parliament is formed by the results of the elections under a majority-proportional system? Then, in order to keep the situation within the legal framework, the parliament elected by the results of early elections can adopt constitutional amendments that have not been adopted now, after which another parliamentary election will be held in Georgia under the proportional system. And their legitimacy won't be in question. To implement this scenario, which holds the country within the legal framework, a broad consensus is needed between all the more or less noticeable forces of the country's political spectrum with their impeccably exact adherence to all agreements until the parliament dissolves ahead of schedule.

It will be incredibly difficult for Bidzine Ivanishvili to find a way out of a very bad situation

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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