Georgia’s Test in Bipartisanship
Four days after the October 1 vote that tossed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and his United National Movement into the legislative minority, Georgia is knuckling down to the legal nitty-gritty of bipartisanship. But can it stay the course?
After a run of acerbic Georgian-Dream rallies against regional election results, negotiators from either side of Georgia’s political aisle sat down for talks today about the constitutional steps to be taken to bring in a new cabinet.
Encouragingly, the participants emerged after the meeting with neither black eyes nor missing teeth, and claimed that constructiveness and common-sense had prevailed.
United National Movement (UNM) representatives even promised to fill the Georgian Dream in on all the ongoing diplomatic, economic and defense projects to make sure the new government hits the ground running.
Looks like the Dreamers like that attitude. “We spoke of everything necessary to ensure stability and to keep the processes in line with the law," said Irakli Alasania, key member of the new parliamentary majority Georgian Dream who is challenging his reported loss to the UNM candidate in the western district of Zugdidi. "The new prime minister will prepare to take over power peacefully and make sure this process is not painful.”
The widely held assumption is that that prime minister will be the Georgian Dream's leader, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.
This, though, might be easier said than done.Though he has the will and the public mandate to fill the job, the letter and spirit of Georgia's constitution are less than clear when it comes to appointing Ivanishvili, a French citizen, as prime minister.
Nonetheless, Davit Bakradze, the outgoing parliamentary speaker, assured reporters that no "artificial problems" would be created to rupture the proposed Georgian Dream cabinet, a body which President Mikheil Saakashvili must present to parliament for confirmation.
In what would prove one mega-milestone of a meeting, the president and Ivanishvili may meet soon, Bakradze said.
But for all the sweet talk and handshakes, tensions still lurk in the background over the outcomes of hotly disputed district vote counts. The pressure is largely on the Georgian Dream to move any protests from the streets into the courts. Whether or not it will do so (despite an earlier appeal from Ivanishvili), remains unclear.