Will Saakashvili return to Georgia?

Will Saakashvili return to Georgia?

The ex-president of Georgia and the current governor of the Odessa region, Mikheil Saakashvili, is confident that his team from the United National Movement party will win the parliamentary elections this fall, after which he intends to return to his homeland.

"There are two [political] forces: one is related to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the second is related to me, there is no one else at this stage. Everything else is just an imitation," Saakashvili told Rustavi-2 TV channel.

According to the ex-president, he intends to return to his homeland after the elections, but he is not going to abandon his mission in Ukraine. "There is no choice between Georgia and Ukraine, the only choice we have is a united bright future," Saakashvili said.

"Despite the fact that the former president is no longer the leader of the United National Movement after he was deprived of Georgian citizenship, the party still listens to his opinion about the formation of electoral lists for the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will be held in autumn of 2016," Georgia Sputnik cited the Georgian MP Giorgi Baramidze as saying.

"We have repeatedly said that despite that Saakashvili has to be in another country, he remains an important person for our party," Baramidze said during an interview to Pirveli Radio.

The political scientist Giorgi Nodia, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that now due to the disappointment of Georgian citizens in the work of the Georgian Dream coalition, their assessment of Mikhail Saakashvili and the United National Movement party is beginning to change.

"Of course, if the Georgian Dream remains in power, Saakashvili will not be able to return to Georgia. Thus, his current statements are in support of the United National Movement [UNM] at the upcoming parliamentary elections". At the moment the ratings of the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement are about the same, but a large number of voters are undecided yet. A scenario, when the UNM forms a coalition with other parties and receives a coalition majority in parliament and the Georgian Dream loses, is quite realistic," the expert said.

Nodia stressed that the UNM has been working with the population for the last four years since the last parliamentary elections. "The UNM has devoted, loyal supporters; and there is also hope that voters will decide to vote against the Georgian Dream, which did not achieve much. Also the public still believes that the United National Movement is Saakashvili's party. In general, the elections will be perceived as a struggle between Ivanishvili and Saakashvili," the analyst expects.

The head of the Center for Global Studies, Nana Devdariani, on the contrary, is confident that Saakashvili will never be able to return to Georgia. "The UNM will not get any impressive representation in Parliament. Saakashvili is promoting himself as usual and tells his supporters that they will inevitably win the elections, but there is no sign of such possibility.  There are conflicts not only within the ruling coalition, but also within the United National Movement. Saakashvili understands the UNM will not win, but hinting about a possible destabilization and a revolution scenario, "she said.

The political analyst agreed that the UNM is trying to whitewash Saakashvili's name but unsuccessfully. "His supporters are always doing that, but it will not change sentiments in the society for the better. In spite of the fact that there are many claims about unfulfilled promises, nobody puts the former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and Saakashvili in the same bascet, except for the UNM deputies. Even former UNM members refuse to be in the electoral list of the party – it is a very serious sign. Of course, Mikhail Saakashvili still has some influence, and his party has supporters, just like any sect would," Nana Devdariani concluded.