In an impassionde video appeal to the Georgian people, released on Monday morning (5 November), the leader of Georgian Dream (GD) party, Bidhzina Ivanishvili, called on the Georgian people not to lose the gains achieved in the last six years, but also promised that henceforth he will himself play a more direct role in the governing of the country.
"I am taking the responsibility, that in one year all errors of governance will be restored and I will use all resources available to me, so that the development of the country becomes irreversible. The most important thing is, that being angry at the government and at some officials, wishing to punish the government, we do not punish our future and our country, and not throw into the abyss everything we invested our lives into in 2012.I am confident, that we will make a choice for our people's well-being, liberty, dignity and we will succeed in building a modern Georgia..", Ivanishvili said.
In 2012 Bidhzina Ivanishili led a landslide victory in Georgia's parliamentary elections, sweeping away the government that had been led by Mikheil Saakishvili for the previous nine years. But Ivanishvili resigned as prime minister a year later, leaving others to manage the affairs of party and government alike. In May of this year Ivanishvili returned to mainstream politics after being elected Chairman of the Georgian Dream once more. Many political observers feel that his absence had led to a situation where the GD party became ineffective. On 28 October the candidate supported by Georgian Dream, Salome Zurabishvili, managed to come first in presidential elections, but only with the tiniest of margins. Opposition candidates, particularly Grigol Vashadze representing the United National Movement (UNM), performed much better than expected. The UNM remains in the shadow of Mikheil Saakashvili, despite the fact that he now lives in exile in the Netherlands. A second round is now due shortly, most likely on 2 December.
Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that the Georgian electorate remains by and large conservative, and expects to be led by 'a man on a white horse'.
"Ivanishvili is that kind of person, and many Georgians still have trust in him. By moving front line in the current election campaign Ivanishvili is in fact turning the election into a referendum of trust in himself. Given that the numbers in the 28 October poll were very disheartening for the GD this is for him a risky preposition. He needs to encourage those of his supporters who stayed away from the poll in the first round to turn up in the second round. And he needs to lure back the protest vote, who supported the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze because they were unsatisfied with the GD government. This task will not be easy, but is doable. The opposition in the meantime needs to keep its cool if it wants to maintain its vote. Many of those voting for Vashadze on 28 October were voting against something and not for something. Such electorate is often ficklish. One thing is certain though, what started off as a staid and boring presidential election campaign for a largely ceremonial post, has now turned into yet another defining moment for Georgia, and the election is open for either side to win".
Ahead of the expected Armenia-Azerbaijan summit, Benyamin Poghosyan argues in this op-ed for commonspace.eu, that the negotiating paradigm based on the Madrid principles is doomed.
"In essence this is an olive branch to the government's critics", commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment. "Its significance should not be understated. President Aliyev has in the last weeks been preparing the country for major changes. This presidential pardon may well be the opening shot of more to come".