The Daily Dispatch

The Daily Dispatch – June 19

Welcome back! The Daily Dispatch is our editorial take on the past day’s news. You can subscribe here to get it in your mailbox . Click to write to us! We’d love to hear your ideas and opinions. Giorgi Tskhakaia has been browsing the news for you.

PACTA SUNT SERVANDA EU, German and U.S. Ambassadors, who oversaw negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition to overhaul the electoral legislation, made a renewed plea to all signatories to stick to the terms of March 8 Agreement. Opposition is likely to interpret it as a call to release Giorgi Rurua, an opposition-minded TV donor, who has been detained on trumped up gun possession charges. The tactfully-worded appeal comes on the heels of parliamentary discussions launched yesterday – that should culminate in a vote on changes to the Constitution this Sunday. Passage of these amendments will advance Georgia’s progress toward a more representative Parliament, hopeful diplomats noted, vowing to keep a close watch on how the election reform proceeds. Georgian Dream MP Dimitri Khundadze – whose unexpected “rebellion” (many believe, engineered by GD patron, Ivanishvili) threw a spanner into the previous electoral deal – said he and his fellow majoritarian MPs will stand back. “This time it won’t be us,” he said, with an ominous glint in the eye. Hold your breath until Sunday.

A WINNING FORMULA? They have gone down to the wire but, finally, they cracked it. Following weeks of hard bargaining, Georgia’s main opposition parties have come to terms to field joint candidates in six single-mandate majoritarian districts in Tbilisi. Opposition hopes such strategy will up its chances to stoke turnout and unseat the ruling party incumbents, putting an end to Georgian Dream’s dominance in all but few constituencies. Our candidates are best-placed to triumph in the first round of October polls, maintained Giga Bokeria of European Georgia party, whose contender is set to run in the posh Vake district. Ruling party bigwigs, unsettled by opposition’s rare moment of unity, sought to belittle the inauspicious alliance. “These joint candidates have nil chance of success,” quipped Irakli Kobakhidze (our frequent flyer, he gets the cheese grater), adding Georgian Dream would win the day hands down. The loose alliance is still in the making (two more districts in the capital left to negotiate – and perhaps more across the country), but, no doubt, opposition racers got off to a promising start.

IN SEARCH OF CULPRIT A new public opinion poll (more to come as poll fever sets in), commissioned by TI Georgia, gauges Georgians’ attitudes to all things electoral. One aptly formulated question tries to pinpoint whom the public holds responsible for failure to pass election reform last November. 31 % of respondents point the finger at Bidzina Ivanishvili, while another 25 % lay the blame on the ruling party. 14 % deem it an expression of “the free will of individual majoritarian MPs.” How does that translate in electoral behavior? We shall see.

WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER That has been the stenciled motto of the youth movements that decry police violence of June 20, 2019, when several participants of the rally were wounded or lost their eyes to “non-lethal” bullets. They have been demanded Giorgi Gakharia – who then chaired the Interior Ministry – to be removed. Instead he was bumped to the PM. Now, the ruling party seems intent to pour oil on fire – “PM Gakharia deserves to top the list [of the Georgian Dream] in upcoming elections”, said the Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, presenting apt handling of Covid-19 crisis as a proof. PM himself was far from conciliatory – I could not care less whether the police aimed to harm during that rally – he quipped to the journalists – what would matter in 5 years, is that we have avoided opposition storming the Parliament. How very Napoleonic of him….

That’s full lid for today!


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