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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs