As you know, Georgia is in a major political crisis, and its acute phase has lasted for more than a year now. The government accuses its opponents of preparing a political coup, while the United National Movement (UNM), the pro-Western coalition of former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s opposition to the current government, orchestrated by Washington, works hard to unleash unrest in Georgian society.
The results of the elections were not unexpected, as the ruling party Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia won 19 out of 20 places where elections were held.
Despite the fact that the results of the second round, as well as the first one, were not falsified (otherwise, the ruling party Georgian Dream would have won in the first round already), the opposition does not recognize the results, announcing permanent large-scale protests and “unfolding of the front across the country.” Georgian politicians have not yet been able to eliminate the disease of denying someone else’s victory, even when it is obvious. The opposition demands an early parliamentary election, although, under the so-called document of Charles Michel, President of the European Council, which, after a long delay, all opposition parties signed, the authorities would have to agree to an early vote if they could not get 43% of the vote. And they got more, though not as much as they hoped.
As for the Georgian Dream’s expectations from the future composition of the local authorities, the ruling party was less fortunate here. It failed to get a one-party majority in 6 municipal assemblies, including the second-largest city, Batumi. This is fraught with continued chaos on the ground, with all the unpleasant consequences that follow.
However, the opposition is doomed to failure as long as it is led by the United National Movement and the scandalous, in many ways, Saakashvili, whose clout has long been undermined despite the active efforts of Washington and the US Embassy to “revive” him in Georgia’s political scene.
In these circumstances, the indisputable conclusion from the second round of local elections held on October 30, 2021, in 20 of 64 municipalities of Georgia becomes obvious. Georgians turned out to be more reasonable than their ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and those who sent him to “blow up Georgia,” hoping that this “messiah” would ensure the success of Washington’s plans in the country. The election results confirmed that Saakashvili’s factor of influence on the Georgian situation was overestimated in Washington, even though he played a well-planned and orchestrated from overseas gamble with his return, the subsequent arrest and a dramatic hunger strike designed to melt Georgians’ hearts with sympathy and compassion. The opposition needs a leader to unleash a new protest movement, and it has no one else but Saakashvili, who has already failed and disappointed to meet Western expectations.
However, not everything is rosy for the Georgian Dream coalition either: the society is split almost in half in the country, as the voting margin is minimal, averaging around 10%. In such a situation, quite prone to shifting the balance of support of the population, one should bear in mind that it was Georgia that began a series of color revolutions in the post-Soviet space, experiencing two successful coups d’etat – first in 1992 when Eduard Shevardnadze was placed on the Georgian presidential seat, and then in 2003, when the same trick was repeated with Saakashvili.
The readiness of the opposition to make another coup d’etat supported by the West is also confirmed by the investigation launched by the State Security Service of Georgia into the fact of a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Bacha Mgeladze, Deputy Head of Counterterrorism Center of Georgian State Security Service, announced this during an emergency briefing on October 29.
In other words, the so-called “critical mass,” the driving force of the coups, has already been accumulated, and only the virtuosic actions of the current Georgian authorities can disband it. At this stage, it is evident that the Georgian authorities have confirmed their legitimacy, but this does not mean that they will be so lucky in the parliamentary elections of 2024, which will only take place if there is not another coup in the country. The ghost of which is already haunting Georgia. To stop another coup, the Georgian Dream will need to begin and complete the job of righting wrongs as soon as possible to regain at least some of its former electorate.
The current situation in Georgia is that two forces are vying for power in the country: The Georgian Dream and the United National Movement. Many small parties go to parliamentary elections, but they do not spend resources on municipal elections, which explains the situation with the dominance of two parties. However, both parties are interested in the confrontation as this allows them to mobilize their supporters: opposition mobilizes its own, while, in contrast, the ruling party has shifted the focus of voters’ attention from their actions to the issue of attitude towards Saakashvili. Both parties are definitely pro-Western, but the West does not know how to reconcile them. Both the EU and the US are now in an awkward situation. Meanwhile, the United National Movement behaves like a spoiled child denied candy, threatening to refuse to work in parliament, lead its supporters out into the streets, and demanding that the Georgian voters reconsider their choice.
For Russia, both Georgian political forces are the same. There are shades, but they are not essential. The situation with Russia, with which Georgia broke off diplomatic relations in August 2008, will remain as it is now: without insulting rhetoric towards representatives of the Russian authorities, but with constant demand, including at the international level, for Moscow to withdraw its recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Therefore, the political crisis will not end with these elections, the protests will continue, and the United National Movement will be looking for new reasons for aggravation. And the Georgian Dream will undoubtedly provide these reasons.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.