By-Election Intrigue

A rebel ex-Justice Minister and conservative figurehead seem posed to return to the Georgian Parliament as a result of today’s by-elections.

Recent events in Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia overshadowed Georgia’s political turmoil. However, today’s by-elections should bring Georgian electorate back to its senses.

In one of the districts – the most prestigious Vake area in Georgian capital – the rebel ex-Justice Minister Mikheil Saakashvili will try to regain his seat in the parliament. Saakashvili has resigned over the disagreements with the current presidential policy claiming that corrupt regime was beyond hope.

Saakashvili was viewed as a strong pro-Western political figure, one of the “young reformer” team of the Citizens Union (CUG).  CUG and its parliamentary faction collapsed, as President Shevardnadze resigned from its chairmanship dissatisfied by the independent-minded moves of the “reformers.” Saakashvili’s return to the Parliament is thought to serve as a catalyst for strengthening stagnant reformist wing.

However, Saakashvili is facing the formidable opposition. National democratic Party’s leader Irina Sarishvili is the most likely challenger. She was endorsed by the President Shevardnadze and has a long track record as the leader of one of the oldest nationalist parties.

Challenging Saakashvili in Vake is also Jaba Ioseliani, renowned warlords of 1990s, the leader of infamous “Mkhedrioni” paramilitaries, whose stock has been raising in connection with recent escalation in Abkhazia.

As the most suspense revolves around Vake elections, conservative Vazsha Lordkipanidze, former State Minister with a track record in communist party and, allegedly a strong pro-Russia lobbyist will almost surely re-gain the Parliamentary seat in a provincial district of Bagdati.

Thus the reformist while comeback comeback still seems  dubious, the conservative parliamentary wing is primed to receive strong reinforcement.