The elections did not bring peace to Georgia: the opposition does not recognize their results and refuses to work in the parliament. The protracted political crisis also threatens the economy and relations with international partners.
All eight opposition parties, which entered the parliament according to the final verdict of the Central Election Commission (CEC), declared a boycott and refused to enter the country’s legislative body. In their opinion, the elections were rigged.
A significant number of local organizations observing the elections believe that the electoral process was characterized by several problems. Their position is much more critical than the opinion of the international organizations, including the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Although international observers acknowledge some problems, in the preliminary conclusions, they characterize the electoral process as competitive, with human rights protected in general. Formally, according to the Constitution, the president of Georgia must appoint a plenary session of the parliament within ten days after the final decision of the CEC on the voting results.
To all seeming, only 90 out of 150 MPs will form a one-party parliament. In other words, the opposition will not only refuse to take part in the sessions but will also dismiss its mandates, resetting to zero its lists and leaving the Georgian Dream alone.
The embassies of the friendly countries, in particular their leaders, both individually and together, are holding consultations with the leaders of the parties to break the deadlock. However, neither the government nor the opposition makes a real compromise. The opposition demands new, early elections, and the government is totally against this condition.
According to the opposition, the government is not able to “survive” in a one-party parliament and will collapse, which will turn into an unprecedented situation in Georgia’s recent history. A protracted one-party crisis could be costly for the country given some challenges, including pandemic, economic and geopolitical pitfalls.
“The opposition will not only refuse to take part in the meetings but will also dismiss its mandates, resetting to zero its lists and leaving the Georgian Dream alone”
2021 State Budget in Question
The Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia urged the political forces to take seriously the state budget draft, submitted to the parliament for discussion and approval. The budget is adjusted to reflect the new challenges connected with the COVID-19 spread. The opposition does not like the draft and is unlikelyto support the document, considering a new loan set in it as inappropriate.
According to the final version of the draft budget for 2021, next year the Georgian government is going to take 5.3 billion lari ($1.3 billion) in external loans. 3.1 billion lari (almost $1 billion) will be spent on servicing and paying off obligations to the foreign states. At the same time, 570 million lari ($171 million) will be allocated for servicing and paying off domestic government obligations. As for the maximum amount of public debt, by the end of 2021, it is set to 33,680.1 million lari, including public external debt – 27,734.2 million lari, and internal debt – 5,945.8 million lari.
It seems that in the new parliament the budget will have to be passed by a one-party majority, with the current prime minister being the first on the list.
Visit of the US Secretary of State
On November 17-18, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Georgia. The visit came as a surprise to many people, but it was especially important against the backdrop of the war in the region. Pompeo flew from Turkey and then left forIsrael. He stressed the importance of the US-Georgia relationship.
The US Secretary of State met with the Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, the Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II and some representatives of the civil society.
The political elite of Georgia, occupied by the electoral battles, does not fully understand this visit’s importance. Meanwhile, the visit underscores Washington’s interest in Tbilisi.
Georgian experts sent a letter to Pompeo calling for an increase in the US military presence in Georgia. Many analysts, including those in Tbilisi, believe that to meet new challenges there must be new security strategies.
In this context, the upcoming NATO ministerial, from which Georgia expects new impulses from the alliance, also gains traction.
The NATO general’s opinion that Georgia should be immediately invited to the North Atlantic bloc was also encouraging. This was stated by the former commander of the United States Army Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges during an online discussion organized by the Georgian non-governmental organization Geokeys.
“We have a precedent for this: West Germany joined NATO when the Soviet troops were stationed in the eastern part of Germany. So, we have a precedent for accepting a country even when its part is occupied,” Ben Hodges said.
Georgia hopes the process of strategic patience will be replaced by some strategic decisions in favor of Georgia.
Nika Melia speaks at opposition rally in Tbilisi
Photo: Vladimir Umikashvili / RIA Novosti