Georgia’s Post-Election Dynamics: The Challenges of Cohabitation
On Wednesday, May 22, 2013, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a roundtable discussion on the post-election political realities in Georgia. The event examined the prospects and challenges of cohabitation within the current economic, political, and social frameworks of Georgia and was moderated by Mark Fischer, Managing Director for the GMF European Offices. The discussion was attended by about 18 people, including representatives from the public, private, and academic sectors.
Giorgi Bokeria, the current secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, discussed the significance of the democratic process to Georgia’s future. He underscored that Georgia has passed its first hurdle with these peaceful elections, acknowledging the winners accept that the losers won’t disappear. It was clear to the President that the Prime Minister must resign the day after elections. However, the recent arrest of the former Prime Minister on corruption charges follows an unfortunate new trend of high profile arrests. The Prime Minister has now chosen to identify and prosecute the forces most allied with the West. His basic understanding of democracy poses a threat to the political and social community, which is worrisome for the President. When it comes to national security, Bokeria stressed that violence is becoming a very troubling trend in Georgia.
Raphael Glucksmann, senior advisor to President Mikheil Saakashvili, recognizes that there are day-to-day challenges in the President’s office - the upcoming national elections, limited channels of communication, and no formal meetings. Glucksmann further described the mood as revolutionary. He fears the rise of a national movement against the constitution. Glucksmann stressed that it is vital to have a strategy, emphasizing the importance of maintaining ties with the West. He stated the importance of preventing the current Prime Minister from undermining Georgian society, human rights, and democracy. Right now the Prime Minister uses the right rhetoric, but the situation on the ground is out of control.
The discussion was concluded with a question and answer session that examined Georgia’s political opposition, economy and the country’s broader role within the international community.