Georgia's ruling party accepts European solution to crisis, opposition refuses
Georgian Dream signs Danielson agreement
The ruling Georgian Dream party is ready to publicly sign the so-called Danielson Plan – a step-by-step compromise to overcome the protracted political crisis, proposed by the representative of the President of the European Council, Christian Danielson.
However, the majority of opposition parties say they will sign the document only after it includes clauses on the release of political prisoners and the holding of early parliamentary elections or a plebiscite on this topic.
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“The ruling team declared its readiness in principle to sign the document at the final meeting of the dialogue, which was facilitated by Christian Danielson. We haven’t signed it until now only because we were waiting for confirmation from the opposition. We also waited for ambassadors in Georgia to hold additional consultations on this topic”, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Archil Talakvadze said at a special briefing on April 17.
He stressed that Danielson’s plan does not include an item on early parliamentary elections. Talakvadze believes that this fact indicates that the international community does not agree with the opposition’s accusations of falsifying the results of the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2020.
However, he said, the Georgian Dream is ready to consider holding early elections in the fall, after the 2021 local elections. This will happen if the ruling party gains less than 40% of the vote.
In practice, this means that the election of heads of administrations can play the role of a plebiscite in Georgia.
On March 31 in Tbilisi, Christian Danielson presented to members of the ruling party and opposition a proposal on how to resolve the political crisis. The document focuses on the systemic electoral and judicial reform in the country. Both sides then refused to sign the plan and blamed each other.
Danielson’s document contains the following components:
- Responding to issues perceived as politicized justice
- Ambitious electoral reformRule of law / judicial reform
- Distribution of power in parliament and transfer of important posts to representatives of the opposition
- Decisions on future elections
Грузия уже почти полгода живет в состоянии политического кризиса. После парламентских выборов 31 октября 2020 года оппозиция отказалась войти в парламент, поскольку сочла выборы сфальсифицированными.
Georgia has been living in a state of political crisis for almost half a year now. After the parliamentary elections on October 31, 2020, the opposition refused to enter parliament, as it considered the elections to be rigged.
The opposition demands new elections. The authorities say the allegations of electoral fraud are unfounded.
The European Union is actively involved in resolving the crisis. After the visit of the President of the European Council Charles Michel, Michel’s personal representative, diplomat Christian Danielson visited Georgia twice in March. Several of his meetings with the government and the opposition ended in vain.
What is the opposition going to do?
Most opposition parties refuse to sign the current version of Danielson’s plan.
The main demand of the largest opposition party “National Movement” is the release from prison of the leader of the United National Movement Nika Melia and co-owner of the main channel of the opposition TV channel Georgy Rurua.
The majority of the opposition joins this demand. They see Melia and Rurua as political prisoners.
The “National Movement” is also not going to give up the demand for early parliamentary elections. He is supported in this by the opposition party “European Georgia”.
According to its leader Gigi Bokeria, any agreement must certainly include the topic of political prisoners, as well as a clause on early elections or a plebiscite.
The leader of the “Girchi – More Freedom” party, Zurab Japaridze, is also not going to sign the plan proposed by Danielson. In his opinion, “this document does not mean an agreement, but the capitulation of the opposition.”
“The ruling party knows for sure that the opposition will not sign this document in this form. Their only goal is to demonstrate themselves in a positive light, to act as a constructive force that has agreed to sign the document created by the Europeans. This is PR from start to finish, nothing more, ”Japaridze said.
He believes that signing the document in this form is harmful for the country, because “after that [the oligarch, the shadow ruler of Georgia] Bidzina Ivanishvili will receive even more opportunities.”
The opposition party “Strategy of Agmashenebeli” has a different opinion, they believe that the new statement of the ruling party makes it possible to continue the dialogue.
Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of the opposition Lelo party, believes that another round of negotiations with a representative of the President of the Council of Europe is needed to reach a final agreement.
However, both of these parties also support the view that a final agreement should solve the problem of political prisoners and elections.
Girchi’s alternative vision
The only party that adheres to a different position is the political association Girchi. Its leaders said they would end the boycott of parliament on April 19, albeit only partially.
Three representatives of Girchi intend to begin attending parliament, but will refuse parliamentary salaries and are not going to participate in the discussion of legislative initiatives.
At the same time, these three members of Girchi do not give up their parliamentary privileges – they will enjoy parliamentary immunity and the right to bear arms [this party stands for the legalization of arms – JAMnews].
Earlier, the leaders of Girchi sent seven conditions to the ruling team of the Georgian Dream and said that if at least one of them is fulfilled, they will enter parliament.
Among the items: to hold all subsequent parliamentary elections on a proportional system and with a natural threshold. Girchi is also demanding full legalization of marijuana and the circulation of various currencies in the country.
In the parliamentary elections on October 31, 2020, the Girchi party received 2.89 percent of the vote and four seats in parliament. In December, a split occurred in the party, one of the founders, Zurab Japaridze, left it and created a new party called Girchi – More Freedom.
The ruling party won 90 seats in the 150-seat Georgian parliament following the latest elections. At this point, only six opposition deputies are working in parliament – two from the Citizens – Aleko Elisashvili party and four from the Alliance of Patriots, who left the party and founded their own European Socialist Party.