Skip to comments.The Vote in Georgia: Why Saakashvili Lost, Why Ivanishvili Won, and What This Means for the Future
Posted on 10/04/2012 10:01:49 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
The final results of the Georgian parliamentary elections were not announced yet when President Mikhail Saakashvili conceded that his party lost the majority of the vote; Bidzina Ivaanishvili has begun talks about forming a government and suggested that Saakashvili resign as president to preclude a dual power situation (Civil Georgia, October 2 and 3). Analysts around the world are speculating about what this change means, with suggestions ranging widely from the banal to the apocalyptic.
Before anyone is swept along by the most sweeping of these commentariesforgetting that Saakashvili will remain president for another year and that the devil will be in the details of the new parliamentit is worth focusing on just why Saakashvili and his party lost, why Ivanishvilis Georgian Dream won, and most importantly, why Ivanishvilis victory represents a major step forward in the development of Georgian democracy and a change in tone but not in substance of Tbilisis approach to both Moscow and the West.
The reasons for the defeat of Saakashvilis party are not far to seek. As summarized by Maksim Yusin of Moscows Kommersant, they include: first, the Georgian economy, despite Saakashvilis reforms, is doing less well than advertised and has created a large class of losers as well as a smaller one of winners. The former had little reason to vote for his party.
Second, the Georgians are tired of Saakashvili personally. In their minds, hes been in power too long, and he insisted on personalizing this race. His transparent attempt to remain in power by following Putins model of exchanging the presidency and prime minister-ship offended many, and the scandal about torture in prisons at the end of the campaign further underscored the dark underside of Georgian politics.
Thirdand this is far and away the most importantYusin notes that for the first time Saakashvili lost the monopoly on patriotism. The presidents declarations that all his opponents are Kremlin agents ready to trade Georgian independence and give up the occupied territories, no longer had the impact on the audience that they once had in Georgia and that they still have in many places in the West. Saakashvili played that card once too often and in ways that threatened the democratic changes with which he had been associated (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2035626).
The victory of Ivanishvilis party reflects more than Saakashvilis obvious shortcomings. It also is the product of the challengers skill and the highly effective campaign he ran. That campaign, and this has attracted less attention than it should, explicitly sought to restore the bloom on the rose revolution to create the conditions for Georgia to be a fully democratic state. Ivanishvilis personal wealth, moreover, something Saakashvili sought to make an issue and even used as a justification for stripping Ivanishvili of his Georgian citizenship, did not play out the way the Georgian president hoped. Many Georgians, anecdotal evidence suggests, felt that Ivanishvili could not be corrupted precisely because he is so wealthy.
What will Saakashvili and the Georgian Dream do in office? Domestically, they will introduce corrections to Saakashvilis untrammeled capitalism and provide a greater role for the Georgian Orthodox Church. Such shifts may lead some in the West to conclude that Georgia is about to slip backwards toward socialism. That seems highly unlikely. Instead, there is going to be a change in tone and style but not in substance, unless one is among those who see such shifts in tonality as inherently substantial.
Moreover, Ivanishvilis victoryand it will be discussed in personal terms just as Saakashvilis loss will bein fact represents something extraordinarily important that the Western supporters of Georgia should understand and welcome: his rise and accession to office represent the first legal change of power in Georgia ever, an achievement that represents not only a triumph of democracy, but a victory for the principles that Saakashvili himself stood for when he sought to institutionalize the Rose Revolution (www.ng.ru/cis/2012-10-03/1_gruzia.html; echo.msk.ru/blog/nzlobin/936444-echo/).
And that in turn has important consequences for how the new Tbilisi government will deal with the West and with Moscow. With the West, an Ivanishvili government is almost certain to lower the temperature and become more predictable, but that does not mean it will become more distant. Instead, relations are likely to improve precisely because there will be fewer fireworks. With Moscow, the impact of new government is likely to be similar: Ivanishvili will change the tonality of relationsafter all, he is not someone whom Vladimir Putin personally hatesand that may make progress in easing relations easier. Indeed, it may even make progress on Abkhazia and South Ossetia more possible, something the Abkhaz at least very much fear (www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1576717.html).
What the change in government will definitely not mean is a wholesale shift in Georgias relations with Russia. As Yusin points out, Russian politicians must not have any illusions: no Georgian leader, unless he is a political kamikaze, will recognize the separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, break ties with the West, or return to Moscows orbit. And that in turn may mean that Tbilisi may become a bigger problem for Moscow than it has been in the past: it will no longer serve as Putins bugaboo, but rather be a model of how citizens can change their government by democratic means. If Russians begin to view what has happened in Georgia with that in mind, the Georgian Dream could become a Russian one as well (echo.msk.ru/blog/oreh/936400-echo/).
Another country enters Russia’s control zone...
Does “-shvili” mean “smith” or something. So common there.
As the article points out, the new guy will not be pro-Russia, but will not be talking about Russia that much -- sensible policy.
South Ossetia (with it's Ossetian population who are ethnically Irani, not Georgain) and Abkhazia are de-facto lost. Better to focus on the land at hand and give the Russians no leeway.
Also, Georgia's economy will continue to improve
So Warszawski means of Warsaw for example
In the Czech and Slovak republics the 'ski' is replaced with 'ova' as in Russia
And in russia and poland there is the ending "icz" like Romanowicz which means the same
In Scotland and Ireland you have the prefix "Mac" or "Mc"
Strangely I've found that among Eastern and Central Europeans they don't have very common surnames like Smith among the English (smith of course being derived from an occupation) since they name themselves after places of origin mostly.
In Poland the commonest surname is Smith = Kowalski :), but it's not as prevalent as Smith in England.
A most popular Russian surname is Kuznetsov translated as “of Smith” following your own theory.
Wonder if they are running against Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson?
Definately going to have to pick up a copy of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal today, to check this out.
Don’t forget the Anglo-Norman Fitz- (son of) as in Fitzgerald. (The nordic -son is too obvious to mention...)
true — and the Nordic -son and -dottir :)
Crap. Did this state sneak ANOTHER election by me? Dang they don’t like transplanted Yankees...
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