Issue #594

30.12.11 - 12.01.12


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NGOs protest new party funding regulations

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Author:  By Nino Edilashvili

Despite the fact that several influential NGO’s called on Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to veto the newly passed amendments to the law on political parties, it has since went into force, as the president has signed the document already. The document was published on the state online registry of legal acts on December 29, after the amendments were passed with a third and final reading by the Parliament on December 28.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Transparency International Georgia, the Coalition Freedom of Choice and Open Society Georgia Foundation viewed the amendment as “unconstitutional” and released a joint statement on December 28. The groups also organized a protest rally in front of the President’s Administration house on December 29.

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December 29, official Statement from the US Embassy:

Statement on Changes to Electoral Code and Campaign Finance Legislation

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The United States is committed to free, fair and credible elections in Georgia. Our focus is on the process, and we do not support any particular party or candidate. In that spirit, the United States embassy takes note of the Electoral Code and the amendments to the Law on Political Unions relating to campaign and political party finance approved by Parliament this week.

We believe many of these legislative changes, if coupled with successful efforts to address real and perceived irregularities in the voters’ lists, will contribute to a more competitive campaign environment for the 2012 parliamentary election.

We regret that there was no agreement on elements of the new code that would have addressed lingering perceptions on inequality within the electoral system.

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Fight in parliament for mandates becomes tougher

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Author:  By Zaza Jgharkava

Members of the non-parliamentary opposition point to billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s entrance onto Georgia’s political scene as the reason behind keeping the current number of members of parliament the same. Critics claim that with a smaller number of MPs, there is less chance the opposition can defeat Saakashvili and his National Movement.

“If we take into consideration that businessmen [generally have] good relations with the government and are usually running for majoritarian seats, there will be a minimum of 73 millionaires in the parliament who are close to the government,” said Zviad Dzidziguri, head of the Conservative Party. “As for the proportional list, this type of election is much cheaper and the chances of the opposition there are higher.”

The ruling party and some opposition forces who have been engaged in the talks including New Rights, Industrialists, Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), National-Democratic Party, European Democrats and National Movement, agreed on December 19 to keep the existing 150 seats in parliament, instead of the proposed change to increase it to 190 seats.

Under the agreement, the number of majoritarian MPs will decrease from the current 75 to 73 and the number of MPs elected through the party-list system will be increased from 75 to 77.

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Marching to 2012

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Author:  By Zaza Jgharkava

This political year in world politics started with rallies and is ending in rallies. From the Arab Spring to the Russian Winter – this is what world politics was about in 2011. Because of these widespread uprisings, The Times magazine even named a protest rally participant their Person of the Year. Georgia was no exception in this regard.

In 2011 there were protests in Georgia at different times; Georgian opposition parties even called for a revolution in the first querter of the year. But unlike the protests in other parts of the world, the protest dramaturgy in Georgia was based on an entirely different scenario and failed to arouse the same level of civic agitation and emotion as the protests in the Arab world did.

Nonetheless, the political activities of the group “Bella Ciao” were named next to visits by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the NATO Secretary General and Hollywood actress Sharon Stone as one of the top-five political events in Georgia.

The first political manifestation was started by former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze in the spring and lasted for a few weeks, but this futile pursuit proved to be fully enough to convince everyone that changing the government through street protests has no future in Georgia.

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Politics 2011

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Author:  By Nino Edilashvili

2011 has been a special year for a number of reasons which seem to influence the current and future political developments in Georgia. In this New Year issue, Georgia Today will highlight the top five politically important events that transpired in Georgia this past year.

Sarkozy in Georgia

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who mediated a ceasefire agreement between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, paid an official visit to Georgia this fall. The honorable guest expressed his support to the host country saying that he has continued to monitor how the ceasefire agreement is being implemented by the parties.

“Others who have signed the August 12 and September 8, 2008 agreements should also feel responsible to undertake the same commitment. It should be a natural step, because it is what international law requires,” he said in his outdoor speech in Tbilisi on October 7.

Sarkozy noted that since the Rose Revolution, Georgia achieved a lot through its successful reforms, but challenges remain in shoring up Georgia’s economy and continuing further democratic reforms.

However, one of the key messages was the support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. “When I am in Tbilisi, I feel like I am in Europe,” Sarkozy stated, adding that “Georgia must be free to express its aspiration to move towards the EU and to one day join it.”

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