U.S. Atlantic Council publishes review of political situation in Georgia
U.S. Atlantic Council has prepared a conclusion on pre-election situation in Georgia. The publication was entitled `Georgia’s Polarized Political Landscape on the Eve of Elections`.
In it the authors, Laura Linderman and Ross Wilson review the state of play and key issues in Georgia`s October 1 parliamentary elections.
`The contest has boiled down to one between President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) and the newly-formed Georgian Dream Coalition put together by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The competition between these two camps has enlivened the country’s electoral landscape and made for sharp campaigning on both policy and personal grounds. A strong UNM showing and a vote generally regarded as fair will help to cement and further the liberalizing reforms on which Saakashvili has staked his government. They will also improve Georgia’s status in the West. A seriously flawed election and/or divided government that a Georgia Dream Coalition victory would produce will add to the country’s turmoil ahead of the presidential polling in 2013,` the preview of the report says.
The authors also mention the ratings of the opposition coalition. `Recent IRI and NDI polls put support for the Dream Coalition at 12 to 24 percent. NDI’s most recent survey has the coalition at the bottom end of this range with about 12 percent of the likely vote. Ivanishvili claims his group will get a minimum of 40 percent,` the report says and describes Ivanishvili as an enigmatic figure.
`The UNM government’s accomplishments are impressive. It has significantly expanded public services, especially the availability of electricity and natural gas; greatly reduced corruption through reforms in education, the police, and elsewhere; and upgraded the country’s roads and other infrastructure. The business climate has improved tremendously. With the European Union (EU), Georgia is negotiating a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA), and President Obama has expressed support for a US-Georgia free trade agreement (FTA) as well. Saakashvili was able to gain control over Adjara, formerly an autonomous region of Soviet Georgia that was ruled for nearly a decade after independence by a local strongman unbeholden to Tbilisi. The president won support for the proposition that his country “will be a member of NATO” at the Bucharest NATO Summit in April 2008 and forged a close relationship with the United States,` the report says.