Georgian press review (March 25-31)

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Georgian press review (March 25-31)

The question of what format the Republican Party will choose to participate in the parliamentary elections in autumn – independently or as part of the Georgian Dream coalition – has become the main intrigue of recent days in Georgia. Observers have suggested that most likely it will be the first option. At the same time, many expressed the view that all parties will benefit in this case.

"If the Republicans leave the coalition, it would be irresponsible. It would create a lot of problems, which a reasonable party would not agree to have. They did the right thing by deciding to postpone the decision. As for a possible collapse of the coalition after the Republicans's withdrawal, I have a very positive attitude to this as a citizen and professional. The coalition building has its own reasons. Then it was a victory over the National Movement in the 2012 elections and the preservation of future sustainability. Now there is no need to participate in the elections in the coalition format, especially since there are many confrontations,"  Rezonansi cited a specialist in the management of public utilities, Archil Gamzardia, as saying.

"A potential voter is confused. For example, someone likes the Republican Party and he wants to vote for them, but he does not like the 'Industrialists'. This stops it, because by voting for the Republicans, he votes for the 'Industrialists' as well. Supporters of the 'Industrialists' are in a similar situation. All this reduces the level of activity and motivation among them. Perhaps they will start to think about other choices. So it would be more reasonable if the parties will participate in the elections independently. We'll know for whom to vote. It will also be better for the parties themselves to gradually take risks and learn how to work better with the public. If the parties are forced to limit their freedom for the sake of cooperation with other parties and to make concessions, then it's better for them to be separate and independent. So I almost do not see any reasons why the coalition should be of interest to voters, the country or the parties themselves," he said.

In addition, it was suggested that Georgian Dream has completed its task, and therefore the time has come for its member parties to disband.

"The collapse of the coalition can be beneficial to the Georgian Dream as a party, which cannot be said about the other subjects of the coalition – not just the Republicans, but also about the 'Forum' and other parties. Despite this, I believe that today it will be better for the country's development if the coalition falls apart," Akhali Taoba cited the political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze as saying.

"Of course, it fulfilled the task for which it was created by Bidzina Ivanishvili. When Ivanishvili has created a coalition, he said that in the future everyone will be able to participate in political processes independently. Now is just the time when political diversity and pluralism should come to the fore. The political parties should participate in the election campaign without any coalitions, and time will show if it's possible to form a unity between the victorious powers. Ivanishvili's credibility will seriously help Georgian Dream during this election again. The Republicans have enough time to establish a dialogue with the public and to win the sympathy of voters. They have such a prospect. If the Republicans have decided to leave the coalition and are preparing for the independent game, the sooner they do it the better," he believes.

Other commentators, evaluating the Georgian Dream party's chances, note that during its years in power it has largely lost the advantages which ensured its success in 2012, but despite this its defeat in the elections is unlikely.

The 'Dream' is in a difficult situation. Ivanishvili's milieu has wasted the great support and political capital Ivanishvili had. In 2012 Adam Michnik said that Ivanishvili has such universal popular support in Georgia that all the money in the world can't buy. Unfortunately, today this resource is lost. As for how to win back the voter's trust: probably, their new slogan and the emphasis will be devoted to socio-economic issues. They will say that the forced coexistence was left behind, that energy and efforts were spent on overcoming the terrible legacy of Saakashvili, but they still managed to achieve a lot. They will show corresponding figures and announce that a truly irreversible development of the country is starting now, the arrival of investments, the implementation of many useful projects, revenues will increase, the lari exchange rate will strengthen, new jobs will be created and so on. But this campaign will not be effective," Rezonansi cited the political scientist Peter Mamradze as saying.

"On the other hand, the use of administrative resources will be effective. ‘Dream’ is the only party that can create a network of regional organizations and ensure the presence of voters and vote in favor of ‘Dream’  through the administrative and financial resources. The administrative resource in Georgia loses only when there is a strong wave of national movement against the government, in other cases the administrative resource wins, that is, the party of power. So far, national discontent has not reached the level of a national movement, there is no such a person in the opposition whom the majority of the population could trust. We're voting for the people, not for the programs. Georgian businessmen will not dare to finance the other parties. So that means that ‘Dream’ is likely to win,’’ the expert predicts.

Against this background, a topic of a possible return to politics of the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has been raised.

"Avoiding responsibility, satisfaction with the minimum program, keeping promises, taking care of one’s business, according to political analysts, it is exactly for these reasons that Bidzina Ivanishvili is not returning to politics. Some political analysts believe that Georgian society wants him to return, and the other part says that Ivanishvili’s return will hurt ‘Georgian Dream’, because now his approval rating is not so high. The authorities say that Ivanishvili is not going to return to politics, but he will participate in the election process," Rezonansi writes.

The same opinion is shared by many experts. "We can say that he watches the processes and when the situation is getting complicated he makes comments. He will not return to politics, because he is occupied with his business. He recently lost $100 million and now he is engaged in litigation. So he does not need to return to politics. Then he would have to leave business. It is not easy to be both prime minister and a businessman. Then he did it and he carried out the minimum program. And he helps to implement the maximum program to others. He continues to work exactly in this form,’’ the publication leads the words of the political scientist Igor Kveselava.

Similar rumors recently started to circulate about another ex-prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili.

"As expected, the information on the return of Irakli Garibashvili to politics has caused concern among his opponents. Yesterday all day different statements were made on this topic. It turned out that the main part of the ‘Georgian Dream‘ party in the parliament is in favor of the return of Irakli Garibashvili to politics, but the executive secretary of the party, Irakli Kobakhidze, who announced a round of talks with Irakli Garibashvili, ‘turned the disk’ and said yesterday that his words had been misunderstood. It is not the first time that Irakli Kobakhidze has been wrong and then blames journalists – supposedly they misunderstood him,’’ Alia writes.

Observers call the return of Irakli Garibashvili unlikely. "He was the chairman of the party, was at the peak of his career, and in what status will he come back now? I understand that everything happens in politics, but even stupidity has its limits. I had not a great opinion about the past of Garibashvili, so I do not see his great future,’’  +Gia Khukhashvili said in an interview to the newspaper.

Against the background of these vicissitudes of the political life of the country. the press does not forget about other subjects, particularly health issues, especially over-expensive medicines.

‘’The talk that the oligopoly reigns on the Georgian pharmaceutical market does not stop. Most of the market is shared between a few companies, they work together, which explains the high cost of medicines. Studies of non-governmental organizations confirmed that the companies worked with super-profits, and sometimes the extra cost of medicines reached 300% Today the situation on the pharmaceutical market has supposedly changed a bit. A number of new players has appeared on the market, but nothing can be done with the high cost of medicines so far,’’ the newspaper Kviris Palitra writes.

Observers tend to explain that this is due to the banal desire of pharmacists to earn as much money as possible. "There are cases when medications produced in Georgia are sold cheaper abroad than in Georgia. After this, no one can convince me that the additional prices of distributors are low. If they appeal to the fact that they have a small income, it is also necessary to find out. It is possible to specifically show the lower profits and at the same time to expand their business ‘expenses’. The pharmaceutical companies in Georgia are engaged exactly in this — they started with a small pharmacy chain and created business empires. Starting with imports, retail sales, local production, clinics and finishing with their own insurance companies. They only thing that they have to do is to open an undertaker’s office, and then they will be able to serve a person from his birth to his death,’’ the publication leads the words of the analyst of the Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen, Merab Janiashvili.