Kakachia: Ivanishvili's rivalry with Saakashvili has escalated into a dangerous zero-sum game

PONARS Eurasia
04 Dec 2019

(Global Voices) Protests continue in Georgia's capital of Tbilisi after the ruling Georgian Dream party reneged on a promise for electoral reform.

On at least two occasions last week, police used water cannons against protesters, who have been picketing the parliament building to demand that the government transition to a fully proportional electoral system. As tensions have risen, metal barricades have been erected around Georgia's parliament. Online, heated debate has erupted around the hashtags #GeoElectoralCrisis and #სირცხვილია (“It's a shame” in Georgian). [...]

Kornely Kakachia, Professor of Political Science at Ivane Javakhishvili State University in Tbilisi, stressed the personal nature of the confrontation. Ivanishvili's rivalry with Saakashvili, he says, has escalated into a dangerous zero-sum game:

Due to the highly polarised nature of Georgian politics and Ivanishvili's personal feud with Saakashvili, both consider that they can't afford to lose an election. At the end of the day, this is about survival not only of the regime, but of his personal wealth, security, and privileges. So when he promised proportional representation under pressure, he miscalculated. He's now calculating his chances more carefully. But Georgian Dream is very eclectic, a marriage of convenience which almost collapsed without his financial support. I think it's too late for him, and he thinks that by demonising Saakashvili and the UNM he can still cling onto power. But he's lost a lot of credibility, and unlike his predecessors, he doesn't know how to leave with grace. [...]

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