Melia knows in advance that reconciling diverse and mutually exclusive positions will be easier neither on the internal front nor on the external front. There is a difference of opinion in the bloc regarding the entry directly into the Parliament, as well as the forms of entry; And in the opposition spectrum, the issue of possible unification of forces in the 2021 self-government elections remains controversial. Melia has set two tasks and says she will try to convince everyone.
Task # 1 – Agreement within the UNM block
On May 13, when Parliament is almost two weeks away Holidays Will complete and return to the work process, most likely, the legislature will not yet have more than 30 deputies from the “National Movement” bloc.
Entry into Parliament is one of the main issues that Nika Melia has to solve together with his teammates and he knows in advance that this process will take at least a week.
According to Radio Liberty, the idea of entering the parliament in the UNM bloc has quite a lot of supporters, and this category also sees the need to use a parliamentary tribune before the self-government elections. However, opinions are divided among them, in particular, regarding the forms of entering the Parliament:
- According to one position, before entering the parliament, the UN must sign the “Charles Michel Agreement”;
- In the second position, entry into parliament should be bypassed by this agreement, as the text of the agreement includes a clause categorically unacceptable to the UNM regarding the June 20 events. Amnesty About.
Nika Melia does not speak about his position on entering the parliament and even more so on the signing of the “Charles Michel Agreement”. It only says that these issues require substantial consideration, as the text of the agreement is “very flawed” and even questionable for the signatories.
However, Melia is sure that he will never agree with the broad amnesty of the Georgian Dream and will never agree that this amnesty will affect him as well – “There is no theoretical chance that I will agree with this madness … this is the crystal dream of the Georgian Dream.”
According to Radio Liberty, at this stage, the UNM bloc fully agrees on only one issue, that, whatever the final decision is made by a majority, it will be accepted and obeyed by all. It is planned that after the internal consultations, a meeting of the UNM Political Council will be held, which will most likely make the final decision by voting.
The UNM at this stage precludes the decision-making by individual MPs independently.
- The “Charles Michel Agreement” has already been signed by the “Republican Party”, which participated in the 2020 parliamentary elections as part of the UNM bloc (“Power is in Unity”).
- MP Salome Samadashvili, who has already separated from the UNM and is acting independently, also acted.
Some members of the Georgian Dream party say they expect the UN to continue its destructive actions and will not be surprised if the party does not enter parliament. According to Shalva Papuashvili, a Georgian Dream MP, the United National Movement and European Georgia, parties that did not sign the Charles Michel Agreement, are shirking their responsibilities and trying to use only the benefits of the agreement.
“Their attitude towards their own voters, towards the citizens of this country and towards this country in general is not responsible and is an escape from the obligations or responsibilities imposed on a politician. They want to get only the benefits from this document and not take responsibility. “ – Shalva Papuashvili stated on May 11.
Task # 2 – Agree with other parties
It will be relatively more difficult to reach an agreement on the external front, where no one will even consider the possibility of voting. Nika Melia must convince the opposing opposition political parties that it is necessary to unite forces in the upcoming self-government elections. And if he does not achieve the goal, Melia may not run in the self-government elections at all:
“I will not run in the elections unless it is a campaign that should bring results. If it should be a campaign for a campaign, it will not bring results. No one should be deceived that without close coordination it is possible to achieve results in elections that are qualitatively different from parliamentary elections.” .
Nika Melia speaks of unity, which means not presenting party lists in one bloc, but uniting them around specific candidates. He is talking about a coalition agreement.
“There should be no unity around a separate Tbilisi mayoral candidate; All leading positions should be named before the public and united around them. The opposition should be represented in a coalition, for example – in Tbilisi. The public should know who will be the chairman of the Tbilisi City Council; All deputies, all leading district governors must be nominated in advance.
“Now we have to show the public what the coalition government will be like … Hopefully there will be (early) parliamentary elections in 2022 and then the coalition government will be inevitable.” – Nika Melia, who came to the UNM office for the first time after 77 days of detention, told reporters on May 11.
The opposition considers the 2021 local elections a kind of referendum because, according to the Charles Michel Agreement, early parliamentary elections will be called if the Georgian Dream fails to cross the 43% threshold in the proportional part of the elections. Consequently, in such a case, opposition parties need to mobilize more than 57% of the electorate.
According to Nika Melia, this is not an easy task and although 43% is calculated only in proportion, the agreement of the candidates should create a significant background- “There will be a climate, an atmosphere where forces are united and the opposition is fighting.”
On May 11, a telephone conversation took place between the chairman of the UNM and the chairman of the Strategy Builder. However, according to Radio Liberty, the meeting between Nika Melia and Giorgi Vashadze will be postponed for a few more days – due to Vashadze’s departure to Ukraine.
Negotiations with Vashadze’s party are considered one of the most problematic segments of Nika Melia’s consultations, as Strategy Builder plans to set up a third center and refuses to support UNM-backed candidates in advance, including for Tbilisi mayor.
As one of the leaders of Strategy Builder, Sergo Chikhladze, told RFE / RL, there is nothing ahead of consultations with Nika Melia, but it will be impossible to convince the party of the need to establish a Third Center and support alternative mayoral candidates.
“Strategy Builder” does not rule out coordination opportunities only at the level of majoritarian candidates.
“For the last 9 years, the whole political struggle has been going on between the two polis. To look at the issue pragmatically, according to various polls, 30-40% of voters want neither the Georgian Dream nor the National Movement. It is clear that this part of the electorate is in search of an alternative. The idea of creating a third center is also based on this … With regard to the mayoral candidates of big cities, we think we will offer alternative candidates to the voters. Collaboration with other parties is presented as an example around the majoritarian candidates of the Sakrebulos. We are not against nominating stronger candidates in a coordinated manner ” – Chikhladze tells us.
- The opposition coalition, which included the main parties, managed to agree on candidates for the 2020 parliamentary elections from 30 majoritarian constituencies in only 8 constituencies in Tbilisi, and in two cases – incompletely.
- Giorgi Vashadze himself was nominated as a single candidate in the 2020 elections, but eventually, in the Isani constituency, the National Movement put up its own candidate – Khatia Dekanoidze, who came in second after the Georgian Dream.
“European Georgia” was a strong supporter of nominating united, fully agreed candidates in the 2020 elections, and even now, before the self-government elections, the party remains in the same position.
“It is necessary to reach an agreement on the majoritarian candidates in the villages, because in their case there is no barrier and the winner with one vote is already considered a winner. If the opposition has many candidates, it will be easier for the Georgian Dream to win. It is also important to agree on mayoral candidates – if not everywhere, at least in a large enough number of municipalities. In this case, an agreement may not be reached in the first round, as the 50% threshold is overcome and allows the focus to be on the second round, but it is necessary to win the first round in at least a few districts to show voters the possibility of defeating the Georgian Dream. “ – Akaki Bobokhidze, Secretary General of European Georgia told RFE / RL.
He said the success of such an agreement would depend on how representative and diverse the composition of the supporting parties would be.
The Labor Party and a number of opposition parties, which, according to the CEC, have been left out of parliament, remain open supporters of the idea of joining forces. The position of “Lelo” is unequivocal and definite at this stage. However, in the 2020 elections, the party nominated its own majoritarian candidates.
Will “European Georgia” enter the parliament?
If the UNM bloc enters parliament, the list of 150 members of the legislature will not exceed 147. The Labor Party will not use one of these three seats, while European Georgia will refuse to use two seats.
- “European Georgia” won a total of 5 seats in the elections, but the three MPs on the party list also signed the “Charles Michel Agreement” and agreed to enter parliament. Among them is the former chairman of the party – Davit Bakradze;
- Elene Khoshtaria refused to use one of the remaining two mandates, who also left “European Georgia” and founded the political movement “It’s time”. Khoshtaria will be able to use the mandate of another party representative only if the still unspecified information about the reactivation of the party lists canceled by the opposition parties is justified;
- Another five-member mandate belongs to Tariel Nakaidze, a member of the European Georgia political council, and he has no plans to use it without agreeing with the party.
As Akaki Bobokhidze, Secretary General of European Georgia, told RFE / RL, the party does not see the point in entering parliament, and this position will most likely not be reconsidered in the future. Bobokhidze also tells us that entering the parliament is unacceptable even without signing the agreement.
“When you enter the parliament by joining the agreement, in such a case you take responsibility for the adopted laws. We do not even believe that the received documents will be close to what is desired and needed … Why should we take responsibility for what we do not believe in ?! If you do not join the agreement and then you are only an observer and why should we give legitimacy to the illegitimate parliament only for the function of an observer ?! The role of observer can be played by the Parliament from outside as well “ – Akaki Bobokhidze tells us.