OPTIMISTIC — CONFIDENCE OR HUBRIS — FOR GOOD, OLD DAYS’ SAKE
This is the Daily Dispatch, our editorial take on Georgia-related developments of the day, delivered to your mailboxes.
ODDBALL The NDI surveys, administered by a respected local pollster, CRRC come to be regarded as a reliable bellwether of the Georgian politics – reviled by some (mostly those in power) but impatiently expected and scrutinized by all. So it was a sensation to a limited circle of aficionados when their latest survey, published today, dropped a bombshell: in a whopping 20 percentage point jump from November 2019, 39% of those surveyed now think Georgia is moving in the right direction. For the first time since the August 2014 survey, the optimists outnumber the pessimists. Similarly, for the first time since November 2013, more Georgians tend to think Georgia is a democracy now – 48%. So what happened?!
One simple answer is – the pandemic. People who saw their future bleak in November, passed through the unthinkable period, and – with a pinch of dark humor – things don’t look just as grim in August 2020. We made it alive. But what does it mean for the upcoming elections?! The commenting politicians focused on party ratings – which the researchers clearly say are not reliable since 64% of the respondents did not answer the question about party preferences. But they seemed to overlook the “right/wrong direction” metric, usually an important indicator of the voters’ mood.
We are of two minds: clearly, the ruling party got a bump for the handling of the pandemic. But then why are their supporters so shy to express themselves? Or do people mean that the country is going in the right direction – meaning towards the elections – where they get to have their say? One way or another, with Covid-19 infection rates perking up we are holding out for the next poll, to see whether that “good-manager bump” flattens out… In any case, such a surprising change in one of the key metrics must remind us, that Georgia is not polling nearly enough to know its society’s mood… As our guest op-ed so convincingly argued last week.
LINING UP Talking of elections, the presentation of the ruling party proportional line-up was the political linchpin of last week. Yet, it was profoundly anti-climactic. [Our longtime favorite, Irakli Kobakhidze had a memorable cameo though, giving a laudatory presentation to…well, who else?! His dear self]. A list is headed by PM Gakharia, former speaker Mr. Kobakhidze and current speaker Mr. Talakvadze make up the flanks,
chief inquisitor Justice Minister Tsulukiani has the artillery. Assorted donors, customary sportsmen, a sprinkling of academics and diplomats to freshen up the outward-looking face, so sullen after the last batch departed in a debacle… In other words a line-up of the party that is confident and certain of victory. Is that confidence warranted, or the Georgian Dream can’t tell its hubris from its hiatus?! We shall see that, too…(and we will ask some smart people to share their views).
WHO’S SHERIFF IN THIS TOWN? In other rumors (yet to become news) we hear that a mix of opposition parties parlayed over the weekend to agree shared platform on the law enforcement. UNM, European Georgia, Girchi, Strategy Agmashenebeli were apparently present. Topics discussed reportedly ranged from reforming the prosecution by taking away its investigative powers, to instituting elected police chiefs (Sheriffs). Exotic.
OTD: SOCIALISTS DISEMBARK On this day in 1920 a large group of European socialists has disembarked in Batumi to visit Europe’s first socialist government (in Tbilisi). Ramsay McDonald – who would go on to become the first British Labor PM and to hold that position twice more – apparently had this to say: We wished to say the victory of democracy in Europe and saw it here, in Georgia.
Ethel Snowden, known British suffragette, envied Georgian women who got their right to vote (and were elected) in 1918 already. She also could compare Georgia to Bolshevik Russia, which she visited earlier that year. Georgia is the first country to prove that you could institute socialism without the general chaos, terror, impoverishment of the majority of people, and total absence of rights, she quipped. Political sentiments aside, one ponders that strange time, when Georgia was leading the way in European politics. Only a few years later, many of these British, French, Dutch, Belgian socialists will enter their countries’ governments and change Europe’s political landscape forever. Sadly, Georgia will already be gone under Bolshevik Russia’s shadow.
That’s full lid for today. If you noticed our publications being slightly erratic last week, we are sorry, we will put our house in order.