International

A highly sensitive election

This Monday, Georgians are going to polls to elect their national Parliament in a very strained national and political context.

Former soviet republic and enjoying the Eastern Bloc and USSR dismantlement in 1991 to recover its independence, Georgia has been still looking for a certain geopolitical and internal stability, since 2008 and the war with Russia who let it very exhausted. This war had important aftermath at the political level and for Mikheil Saakashvili, the current Georgia’s President, some people wondering on the legitimacy of his rapprochement policy vis-à-vis the European Union and NATO it wants to be a full member.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, current Georgian opposition’s leader, during his campaign

If currently, the United National Movement (the Head of State’s party) is still ahead in the opinion polls, the atmosphere seems to be more and more strained and the distrust vis-à-vis the power stronger and stronger. Indeed, Mikheil Saakashvili is facing to a heteroclite opposition – led by the very rich business man, Bidzina Ivanishvili, reputed to be close to Russia – who questions his authoritarian power. On the contrary, the presidential movement accuses Georgian Dream (the Ivanishvili coalition gathering nationalistic parties and former supporters of Saakashvili) to create unrest within the population and want to fasten the country to Russia.

Mikheil Saakashvili, current Georgian President during a rally

The outgoing president’s personality is one of the main stakes of the campaign insofar as this one polarizes tensions. This ambivalent person is put forward by the opposition who wants to transform this election in a referendum pro or anti Saakachvili. The man, symbol of the 2003 Rose Revolution and president since 2004, disappointed a lot of Georgians who now question his personal way of governing but also the omnipotence of his party who gets more 80% of the seats in the Parliament. Face to him, Georgian Dream wishes to federate all the disappointed of the current president and capitalize on the current dissatisfaction to get the power and force Saakashvili to step down. This hypothesis does not seem afraid the presidential party who nonetheless warns Georgians against a probable victory of the opposition which would be an impact on the fragile equilibrium of the country and its pro-occidental policy.

In fact, it needed to remind – and this is the other point of the current campaign – the country attracts the attention of Russia, the United States and the European Union because of its geographical position. Located in the heart of Caucasus, Georgia is a strategic State who during a while hesitated between Russia and the West even if Saakashvili has been leading, since he is at power, a blatantly pro-Western policy. Such a position sparks off a lot of ambitions and important stakes as on an internal level as an external one and heavily weigh on this very electric electoral campaign. Thus, a probable rapprochement with Russia, advocated by Ivanschvili, is clearly rejected by those who fear a loose of independence for Georgia, a lot of Georgians keeping in mind the 2008 War indeed.

Georgian man sitting down in front of the Russian Embassy, in August 2008, just after the Russian-Georgian War

It is a very sensitive ballot for the incumbent Georgian President who is staking everything to keep the power accusing the opposition to prepare unrest just after the first known results. Twenty one years after recovering its independence, Georgia is still experiencing important motions and seems to hesitate between a pro-Western and a pro-Russian path as the ex-USSR Republics. The polarization of the Georgian political life and election on president Saakaschvili is a good indicator and it seems to be obvious electoral results will be particularly studied by the European Union in the framework of its neighbourhood policy.

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