Saakashvili may use current situation in Georgia to try to stage comeback — analyst

Georgia’s former president, Mikhail Saakahsvili, may try to use the current wave of protests in an attempt to bolster his party’s image and stage a political comeback, analyst Konstantin Tasits, of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told TASS on Friday.

"The latest events have inspired the former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who is unable to return to the country for the time being," Tasits said. "He goes on inciting the opposition. He claims that a real revolution is due soon."

It goes without saying, the expert speculated, that Saakashvili will try to use the situation to consolidate his party’s political positions and eventually return to Georgia’s politics.

Tasits speculates that further developments in Georgia will largely depend on the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"The opposition is already resolutely minded and will press for the government’s resignation. A large rally is due on November 17," he added.

Similar protests took place last summer. "The government promised to make amendments, but the ruling party split up. Some of the legislators elected in the majoritarian constituencies realized that in the new system they would have far fewer chances of being elected to parliament and rose in revolt against amendments to the Constitution," Tasits went on. "The authorities’ default on their promises caused popular outcry and made all political forces unite — from the nationalist Alliance of Patriots to pro-Western opposition and a number of smaller parties."

At the same time the analyst pointed out that Georgia’s prime minister welcomed the idea of amendments to the Constitution. "Now he is to persuade those majoritarian legislators who feel uneasy about their political future," he noted. "If he fails to persuade the legislators, political instability in the country will merely soar as the election date draws near," Tasits claimed.

Reasons for protests

The Georgian parliament on November 14 refused to support the idea of constitutional changes concerning the 2020 parliamentary elections on the basis of a proportional system with a zero threshold. Most parliament members from the ruling party, the author of the bill, opposed this idea.

Angry opposition and civil activists turned out for a large rally in Tbilisi in front of the parliament building. They put the blame entirely on the leader of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili. He was the one who announced transition from the mixed system to the proportional one ahead of the forthcoming elections. Holding elections on the basis of a proportional system was one of the demands the protesters in front of the Georgian parliament pressed for three months starting from June 20.

Immediately after the voting those members of the ruling Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia party who disagreed with the outcome began to quit the party. By now eight legislators have handed in their party membership cards. The opposition and civil activists declared open-ended protest demonstrations.

Georgia’s forthcoming parliamentary elections are due in October 2020.

Saakahsvili Georgia