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Georgian Dream, Opposition, Activists Debate Interim Govt Proposal

During the pro-EU rally in Tbilisi on June 24, a freshly created public movement “Home – to Europe” called for Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to resign and demanded the creation of the interim technocratic government of national unity to guide the implementation of the EU conditions for granting Georgia the candidacy by the end of the year. Scheduling a new rally for July 3, the new public movement said PM Garibashvili and the Georgian Dream leadership have a week to meet the demands. In the meantime, the debate about the feasibility and legitimacy of this proposal is on:

Opposition Reacts

Nika Melia, the chairperson of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party, largely endorsed the idea but also offered a few remarks clarifying his expectations.

Melia said ex-PM and Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili should not present yet another “government controlled by the oligarch,” but the temporary government of “national consent.”

The UNM leader said that the provisional government should be tasked to meet EU recommendations so that Georgia received EU candidate status in December. “When this process completes, the process should continue under a reformed electoral environment, including new elections.”

Stressing that all sides, including “the popular movement, opposition, and Ivanishvili” need to agree on the composition of the temporary government, Melia asserted there should be no active politicians or civil society representatives in the interim cabinet but “recognized specialists, with international recognition and high public reputation.”

Parliamentary party Lelo for Georgia urged the Georgian Dream government in a June 27 statement to “immediately” begin talks with political parties and civil society “to define the principles for the formation of a technical interim government and then to work out the concrete steps to meet EU requirements.”

The party warned, “if today our society and political spectrum do not find a way out of this crisis, the danger that instead of depolarization, the country will split…” Lelo also warned that if GD does not meet these requirements by July 3 they will not carry on their presence either in the Parliament or local councils (Sakrebulos).

MP Giorgi Vashadze, Strategy Agmashenebeli leader, said on June 27 that the Georgian Dream’s “only option” is to agree with the demands for a technical government and a strategy for complying with EU requirements. Vashadze said that the technical government “has the full support of our European partners” and stressed that GD has until July 3 to “take steps towards depolarization.”

Giga Bokeria, leader of European Georgia, rejected the idea, noting that “the idea of appointing oneself as the government by any group is unserious and harmful.” He said on June 25, that “Governing the country, exercising power, transforming the country can be done only by a government with a mandate secured as through free elections and a team approved by the Parliament.”

He stated, however, that “on the basis of broad consensus, it is possible for a so-called technical interim government to be established that will be tasked with holding free elections after the protests shake the [Bidzina] Ivanishvili’s regime.”

Elene Khoshtaria, Droa party leader, stated on June 25 that their party “fully supports” the new popular movement and its demands. “This is a historically important, critical moment when civil society took the responsibility upon themselves so that we would not lose what is most significant, our European future.”

In her address, she also dubbed “de-oligarchization” — one of EU recommendations — as one of the most important steps without which Georgia has no prospects for development.

The European Council made a final decision on June 23 to grant Georgia European Perspective, but not candidate status, until the country is assessed at the end of the year for its compliance with 12 critical recommendations.

Georgian Dream Reacts

In an interview with Palitra News TV, Georgian Dream Chair, MP Kobakhidze said the government “will not allow” protesters to deviate from the Constitutional logic.

He said the Georgian Dream was granted the legitimacy to govern the country through the 2020 parliamentary and 2021 local elections. “The Georgian people chose Georgian Dream to run the country, this is the constitutional order and its logic, based on which PM Irakli Garibashvili leads the government.”

Irakli Garibashvili returned as Prime Minister in February 2021, a few months after October 2020 parliamentary elections. He led the cabinet during October 2021 local elections, however. – Civil.ge’s note

Georgian Dream’s Shalva Papuashvili, the Parliament Speaker, also lambasted the demand today, saying “There are political groups or some non-governmental organizations that do not want the Georgian Dream to be in power, but democracy does not work that way.”

He claimed that those lobbying for an interim government want decisions to be made not by the people but by the “several representatives of the self-proclaimed democratic elite.”

Speaker Papuashvili also lambasted CSOs for “violating” their neutrality by joining in the “polarizing” demands for an interim government. “It is unfortunate that several [CSOs] are directly involved in politics, without being registered as a political organization.”

Activists Explain Details

Shame Movement activist group leader Shota Dighmelashvili, who voiced the demands on June 24, clarified: “None of us, who are speaking to the public in the name of the public movement are fighting for the [government] seats. We are fighting for people’s power, for the government to represent us, and not the oligarch.”

He asserted that the National Unity Government should be technocratic, uniting the professionals in their respective fields with one sole goal – to lead the country towards achieving the objectives set by the European Commission.

Activist lawyers Vakhushti Menabde and Sopo Verdzeuli — albeit the two are not part of the group that unveiled the demand on June 24 — explained in their “Commentary” video that the “technical government” won’t mean a change in governing party: simply the ruling party and the opposition will agree on the new cabinet. 

They said the move will not cause destabilization: it is not linked to an upheaval, such as the ouster of the government or a revolution. It is a technical arrangement reached by the political forces, acting in consensus, they said. 

The two activists also said this arrangement is not contrary to the Constitution, since the government will be voted in by the sitting Parliament, and its proposals will be enacted into law in a similar way. This cabinet also will be task- and time-bound, relinquishing power to the parliamentary majority after achieving its objective, they argued.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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