Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Georgia?

Traditionally, in the former Soviet territories any new power that comes to office immediately tries to change the Constitution. This is the intention of the coalition "Georgian Dream" that won the parliamentary elections in Georgia on October 1. According to the statements of the politicians, the changes to the basic law of the country will be significant.

On October 1st the opposition coalition "Georgian Dream" won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections in Georgia with nearly 55 percent of the votes. One of the first statements of the new government was their stated intention to make changes to the Constitution. A candidate for the position of the speaker of the parliament and opposition leader David Usupashvili said that the government intended to create a commission to draft a new Constitution so that the Constitution would not have to be changed based on someone's desire. He added that the current wording of the Constitution that has been in effect since October of 2010 was not consistent with the global standards.

It is difficult to work under the current Constitution because it is impossible to establish the constitutional order. This Constitution was adopted in the interests of the team of a particular person and completely disregarded the reality as such, Usupashvili said. According to him, the Constitution must help the society in crisis situations, but instead, the existing document creates crisis situations every step of the way. He also stressed that the President still has significant powers under the Constitution.

Many experts believe this to be the true cause of the constitutional changes. The new government wants to limit the presidential powers. The proposed changes will in no way affect the economic situation in the country because the economy does not directly depend on the Constitution. Serious steps to reduce poverty and unemployment must be taken instead of spending all the efforts on obtaining greater power. During the campaign, a number of statements, slogans and appeals have been made. Many of them were correct, but what about the implementation? Can the new government give up some of its political ambitions and focus on the economic problems of Georgia? These are the issues the people of Georgia care about. The citizens of the country will assess the policies of the opposition based on the real action and not the pre-election rhetoric.

Political coalition "Georgian Dream" that won the Georgian parliamentary election includes the Conservative and Republican parties, the National Forum, the party "Georgia's dream - a democratic Georgia," "Our Georgia - Free Democrats" and "Industry Will Save Georgia". Currently negotiations are conducted on the composition of the future cabinet of ministers. According to experts, the new government will be headed by the bloc leader Bidzina Ivanishvili who made a few prominent statements. He announced that none of the acting ministers may become members of the new team. In addition, he called for Saakashvili to resign and hold early presidential elections.

Ivanishvili emerged in the political scene of Georgia in the fall of 2011, announced the creation of his party and intention to take part in the parliamentary elections. Previously he was known only as a billionaire philanthropist and a very non-public person. He earned his fortune, estimated at $4 billion dollars, in Russia. Ivanishvili owned the assets of Impexbank bank, "Russian Credit" bank, agricultural corporation "Stoylenskaya Niva", pharmacy network "Dr. Century", various properties, chemical companies, Gazprom shares, etc. His opponents talked about his close ties with Putin, calling him a Kremlin puppet. Ivanishvili stated on numerous occasions that he had sold his business in Russia and voluntarily gave up Russian citizenship. "Pro-Russian" image did not prevent Ivanishvili from winning the parliamentary elections. What can ordinary people expect?

Ivanishvili is in a difficult position because the social and economic situation in the country is quite complicated. According to some experts, the Georgian economy is in a very difficult situation and requires urgent reforms. The promised economic miracle, unfortunately, did not happen. On a number of key economic indicators Georgia is inferior to its immediate neighbors in the CIS. The investments of the U.S. and the EU cannot solve all the problems. Georgia's economic success is largely dependent on foreign loans. Many believe that the results of the parliamentary elections will initiate social change in Georgia. Next year there will be changes in the country's political structure and Georgia will become a parliamentary republic. The Parliament will have more authority. Therefore, Ivanishvili has every chance and a real opportunity to fulfill his promises. He has to avoid getting bogged down in the political demagogy and another re-write of the Constitution.

The relations between Georgia and Russia in recent years have been very complicated. Many experts expect that Ivanishvili can improve them. But how likely is the change in the bilateral relations? In his statements, Ivanishvili emphasized that Georgia needed to improve the relations with Russia and develop a new economic format. Russia is Georgia's largest neighbor, and should be used, he said. "We need to make friends with all our partners," these words of the leader of the "Georgian Dream" show a business approach of a man who is used to looking for and finding benefits. This position may be the beginning of changes to many aspects of the relations between the two countries, especially in terms of the economy. Obviously, the fact that Georgia will continue the course of joining NATO and the EU and keep the U.S. as its main strategic partner should be considered.

In addition, Ivanishvili confirmed his intention to strive for the country's integrity, which will require a compromise with regard to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has interpreted the results of the Georgian elections with cautious optimism. Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia was open for a dialogue on the future of Georgian-Russian relations. The tone of the Russian comments was cautious and calm. Speaking about the relations between Russia and Georgia, many experts suggest that they will not deteriorate any further.

It is clear that Georgia is on the brink of very serious internal political changes. They will not happen overnight. The results of the parliamentary elections are only the beginning of possible global changes. In order to complete the transition to a parliamentary republic, it is necessary to form a new government, to determine who will be the Prime Minister and the Speaker, not to mention the presidential election next year. But even these aspects are not the most important ones. Much more important is to implement the constitutional reform, that is, make the transition legal and legitimate. Will the new government be able to solve these problems or will there be another disappointment? Time will tell.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov