News / Europe

Georgia's Political Factions Now Must Govern Together

James Brooke
Georgia’s future prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, met President Mikheil Saakashvili at Tbilisi's modern steel-and-glass presidential palace on Tuesday. Afterwards the two rivals posed for pictures, and the president told reporters, “We will transfer the majority of the government’s function to the opposition peacefully for the first time in this region.”
For his part, Ivanishvili said, “I am glad we have had this chance to meet, and I must say that we are a civilized nation, and we can get along in a democratic way with our opponents.”
Now comes the hard part. Faceless to most Georgians only one year ago, Ivanishvili came from behind to win 55 percent of the vote in Georgia’s October 1 parliamentary elections. Now he faces a new challenge: sharing power with President Saakashvili, who has led Georgia for the last eight years.
As a leader of the opposition, Ivanishvili filled Tbilisi’s Freedom Square with 100,000 supporters. In victory, supporters of his Georgian Dream movement drove up and down Tbilisi’s main avenue with horns blowing and blue-and-gold flags waving.

On October 21, when Georgia’s parliament convenes for a new session, the Georgian Dream majority is set to elect Ivanishvili prime minister. He will, however, have to work together with Saakashvili, who will remain president until his term expires next October. Saakashvili’s party won 40 percent of the popular vote and 45 percent of the seats in parliament - enough to block some legislative changes.
So both sides now have to do something rare for this region, and for post-Soviet politics: compromise.
“The ruling party has had a constitutional majority for a long time now, and it's been a terrible thing for the parliament of Georgia,” said Mark Mullen, a longtime American resident and chairman of Transparency International Georgia. “The ruling party just did whatever it wanted to, and it was very, very frustrating.”
Next comes power-sharing
After the election victory was announced officially, passions cooled, a new Cabinet was named and Ivanishvili said that all but top government officials will keep their jobs.
This was good news to American Lawrence Sheets, Caucasus project director for the International Crisis Group.  “The newly elected majority from Georgian Dream, they’ve been very clear about prosecutions, that sort of language,” said Sheets.  “All through their campaign they were using the word punish, punish, punish.”
Sheets said it is key that Georgia's two opposing forces work together, at least until Saaskashvili’s term expires.
“It’s very important for responsible international actors to emphasize to the two sides that they have to take realistic positions,” said Sheets. “It’s not realistic to say the president has to quit now because we say so.”
Last week, analysts said Georgia set three rare precedents for a former republic of the Soviet Union: it carried out a competitive and apparently fair election; the ruling party was defeated, and accepted the voters' verdict; and the president accepted his party's defeat gracefully. Now the country's political leaders, both in the government and opposition, have a fourth milestone: running the country in a power-sharing arrangement for the next year.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
October 09, 2012 8:50 PM
The infant democracy of Georgia is at the treashold of innovations in democracy. It is strange that the elections are held one year before the term of the current President expires. It is also strange that the present President and the elected new President has to joint hands to run the government for next one year. Even in the US the cooperation between the President and the elected majority legislatures of the opposition party seems to be impossible.

The experiment in democracy in Georgia is an eye opener for President Obama and the next president in the US for an effective government by the cooperation and general consensus of both the majority and minority parties. Democracy does not mean the dictatorship of the President or the majority party. Demcracy is the government by consensus of the majaority and minority for the benefit of people. A democratic government by the people and for the people indicates a unity government involving the majority and the minority political parties with common understanding. All political parties should have role in government according to the number of legislatures of each political party and that is real democracy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs