Georgian opposition names presidential candidate

Mamikon Babayan, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Georgian opposition names presidential candidate

The events of recent weeks in Georgia show that the political opposition of the republic has managed to find common points of contact. This confirms a desire of ten opposition parties to come out together and put forward a common candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections this autumn. The chosen candidate became the former Georgian Foreign Minister, member of the political council of the United National Movement party, Grigol Vashadze. In his opinion, the current situation in the republic is favorable for the unification of all political and social groups that have reason to hope for the support and votes during the electoral process.

Nevertheless, to win the election, the opposition candidate must offer a decisively new strategy of political development, so that the citizens of the republic decide to replace the current paradigm. Despite the nomination of a single candidate, it is already obvious that personalities capable of making healthy competition for the Georgian Dream are not among the leaders of the Georgian opposition. And this is not because that there is not a candidate who can attract public attention to the ranks of the oppositionists, but due to the absence of the necessary resources. For this reason, Grigol Vashadze needs to receive a high popularity rating among the population. In other words, people must believe that they vote for their future, and do not give votes in support of someone else's business. It will be extremely difficult to achieve this, as the majority of voters distances themselves from the political elite of Georgia and does not trust either the authorities or the opposition.

However, intrigue is still possible if the opposition manifests itself in resolving the fundamental issues. These include the crisis in relations between Russia and Georgia. Whether anyone from the political establishment of the Republic decides to negotiate directly with Russia, it is difficult to say. In the light of the current confrontation between the Russian Federation and the West for Georgia, the most likely thing to expect is a wait-and-see attitude. Politicians will prefer to observe the outcome of the international process, refraining from loud comments, so that after a recession of tension, one should focus on some development vector. Therefore, most likely, the Russian-Georgian relations will remain ‘frozen’, because for Georgia there is no need to take risks and be drawn into a big geopolitical war.

There is an assumption that the ‘revolutionary’ events in Armenia can influence the course of the election campaign in Georgia. Meantime, the leader of the opposition National Democratic Party, Bachuki Kardava, says the main goal of the opposition is a complete change of power in the republic. However, it should be clarified that the spring events of this year in Yerevan, which led to the resignation of the authorities, can not affect the current alignment of forces in Georgia, as the former leader of Armenia was in power for a much longer time, losing any support of the people. Moreover, Armenia is still in Russia’s zone of influence, therefore, Georgia should not be guided by the ‘Armenian scenario’.

Finally, a new policy regarding the former autonomies of Georgia can influence the course of the electoral process in favor of the opposition. Despite the fact that the position on the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia remains unchanged, the opposition should remember that the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian relations are very specific. To prevent Abkhazia and South Ossetia from accusing the next Georgian initiative of populism, it is necessary to approach the problem more subtly: it may be the creation of joint ventures or the restoration of common infrastructure projects. In the case of Abkhazia, a vivid example is the overhaul of the emergency Inguri Hydroelectric Power Station, which is in joint use.

Still, the opposition candidate will have fewer chances, if Georgia's incumbent president Georgi Margvelashvili decides to participate in the elections. Proceeding from the fact that after the election the powers of the head of state will be significantly curtailed, the office of the president of the republic acquires the character of a peacemaker and Margvelashvili who is considered a refined politician suits this position perfectly.