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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs