GEORGIA: The lesson of the Georgian presidential elections
JAMnews, Tbilisi October 29, 2018
Experts Gia Nodia and Zaal Andronikashvili on the 28 October elections
Courtesy of JamNews (https://jam-news.net)
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has counted all the ballots. The government-supported candidate Salome Zourabichvili not only did not win in the first round, but almost lost to her main opponent.
The difference in the results is less than one per cent, with Zourabichvili receiving 38.64 per cent of the vote and Grigol Vashadze – 37.74.
Georgian political observers sounded off on last night’s election.
Gia Nodia is a political scientist and the head of the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development
What was the main result of the elections?
First: it was confirmed that power can be won through elections. The authorities’ power is largely an illusion of its invincibility. The elections have tot yet been won, but the government has already lost. If the opposition fails to bring the affair to a victorious conclusion, it will be their fault, not the government’s.
Second: the obsession with the appearance of a third political force in the country – that is, that the Georgian Dream could not be defeated until a third force appeared – has been put to rest. Three candidates that formerly came out of the United National Movement won more than 50 per cent of the vote. This does not mean that they would have won had they united in the beginning – that never happens. Why did the government lose?
If you look at the incident from the position of the authorities, then one of the reasons for the defeat was the decision of Bidzina Ivanishvili. He chose an absolutely inappropriate candidate, and against the wishes of his own party, at that. After that, the faith of his supporters was shaken. It turns out that Zakaria Kutsnashvili was right [ed. a majority deputy who opposed Salome Zourabichvili’s candidacy], and Bidzina was wrong.
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• Head of Georgia tells all before elections Did the opposition win the elections or not? Yes, they did – and it’s a very important victory
Of course, this is a very important personal victory for Mikheil Saakashvili: Grigol Vashadze is his protege. The elections did however confirm that the Georgian political culture has not changed: protest voices go over to the side of the most radical opposition. The Rustavi-2 television company, for its part, has probably played a decisive role. Predictions
The coming to power of the opposition president does not mean a change of power – this will be decided on at the parliamentary elections in 2020.
The opposition could win these elections – I think the United National Movement could win. The upcoming second of voting should become a lesson in cooperation for the opposition for subsequent success in the parliamentary elections.
Publicist, professor at Ilia State University, Zaal Andronikashvili
The lesson of the elections:
Two main trends were shown at the elections:
The first is that it is necessary to preserve direct national presidential elections. The elections clearly demonstrated how important it is for the president to be elected by the people, and not by some non-transparent board. In a country where democratic institutions are still weak, elections are often the only instrument for the voter to express his attitude towards one-party (or one-man) rule. [ed. According to recent constitutional amendments, last night’s presidential election was the last that will take place by direct vote. In 2023, the president will be elected by an electoral college].
The second trend is that the population still votes “against.” Most Georgian voters do not have parties and candidates who would defend their interests. Such voters are forced by a vote of protest to balance one-party rule (which sooner or later necessarily takes the path of tyranny). In this case, neither the party programme, nor the personality of politicians is of any importance – this is an emergency mode, in which the task of voters is reduced to maintaining a democratic minimum.
At least 60 percent of Georgian voters do not have a political representative and are forced to cast a protest vote or “punish” the government in their own way.
In 2012, the voters punished the United National Movement, and today, it seems, they are punishing the Georgian Dream.
Link to original story:
The photo is part of original story published on JamNews’ website, while the caption is as follows "Bidzina Ivanishvili voting at a polling station. Photo:Tornike Mandaria / JAMnews"
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