Georgia’s government – Caucasian circles

from The Economist..

May 11, 2013 | TBLISI

SEVEN months after the general election in Georgia, its protagonists are still campaigning against each other. President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose party lost the election to the Georgian Dream coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, a business tycoon who is now prime minister, rallied his supporters in Tbilisi last month. Mr Ivanishvili seems more preoccupied with attacking the outgoing president than with reviving Georgia’s stuttering economy. Emotions are running high and accusations abound.

Yet unusually enough, life for most Georgians has so far carried on as normal. The traffic police still do not take bribes and the streets are still lit. Indeed, the difficulty of cohabitation between winner and loser is a side-effect of a broadly positive development in Georgia, where political power had never before been transferred peacefully and losers often vanished overnight. Mr Saakashvili has chosen to remain as president until his term expires in October, when Georgia will become a parliamentary republic.


Although from different camps, Mr Khukhashvili and Mr Bendukidze agree that, far from trying to consolidate power in his own party, Mr Ivanishvili prefers to see many small ones. He has often promised not to stay in power for long and even to withdraw from politics once Georgia has a multiparty democracy. He may keep his word (though Mr Saakashvili thinks he may instead run for president). A rich and powerful figure pulling strings behind the scenes can be bad for democracy. Georgia has never suffered from a lack of pluralism. With its economic problems, its history of civil war in the 1990s and a powerful and bitter Russia on its doorstep, it can ill afford political chaos.

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