President-Prime Minister Friction on the Agenda Again

The football celebration that took place at the Dinamo Arena on August 11, took place without the Georgian president. Just like at the opening ceremony of the European Youth Olympic Festival, President Giorgi Margvelashvili did not appear at the UEFA Super Cup. In the governmental box, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili sat next to the UEFA President Michel Platini. The President of Georgia was probably watching the Barcelona-Sevilla match on TV from his house in Dusheti. The President did not explain his absence at this important event but his press office made it known long before the match that the President had decided not to attend the match. Explaining his absence at the opening of the EYOF, he directly said that he as a president “had no role” in the opening of the festival and for that reason he would not attend it. To put it simpler, the President was not given the right to address young sportsmen at the EYOF and he boycotted. However, as ever the presence and absence of Georgia’s Prime Minister and President continues to stir debate about their respective roles and who exactly is seen as the country’s figurehead.

The political game between the President and the Prime Minister has long rumbled on into open confrontation. The President, who has been accused of a lack of gratitude, on his side reminds his former team of their pre-election promises. The tension reached a point when the Speaker of the Parliament had to make a special statement in order to appease the Georgian Dream MPs. “It is high time for the Georgian Dream to get used to the idea that President Margvelashvili is not part of the political team of the Georgian Dream Coalition, even though he was nominated by the Coalition. He has never said that and I would even add that our constitutional system defines that,” Usupashvili said on Art Area TV. President Margvelashvili reminded his former team members of the same thing when the Georgian Dream members asked the President to recall the pre-election period and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s choice. “I am the President elected by the Georgian population who gave an oath to the people of Georgia and not to the Georgian Dream, that I would serve the country, not a political party.” This is how the president responded to the claims of the governmental party. However, the main concern is whose side Usupashvili takes when the matter comes to a crucial phase. The Georgian media is already announcing the emergence of a new oppositional power and this power plans to gather around President Margvelashvili. In an interview with the Asaval-Dasavali newspaper, editor of the newspaper Kronika Plus, Eliso Kiladze says that negotiations for the shaping of such a political power are underway. Representatives of the United National Movement, Free Democrats and Margvelashvili are meeting each other in Turkey. “Special agencies will not find it hard to confirm that negotiations are underway in Turkey. Now the sides are agreeing on the place of the new political movement on the oppositional wing and the role of the President in this movement,” Kiladze says.

It is becoming clear the Prime Minister with his cabinet and the President with his administration are two independent branches. They have their own competences and spheres of influence. On one side, there is Prime Minister Garibashvili who is shaping into a new type of leader and is uniting voters of different views and interests. On the other side there is Giorgi Margvelashvili who is also a new type of a leader. However, until now he has been uniting anti-Prime Minister voters. In this case, the United National Movement is unacceptable for both of them, something made clear during the discussion of the draft law on tapping. Back then, non-governmental organizations refused to register their projects in the name of the United National Movement and supported Republicans. It is also interesting that President Margvelashvili fired Vano Machavariani from his administration who was connected to the United National Movement and hired Kakha Kozhoridze who is associated with the Republicans. Republicans and Free Democrats on their side have already been named as alternative opposition powers to the United National Movement. Autumn should be interesting as we see the final confrontation scenes between the President and the Prime Minister when the Parliament will start working on collecting 76 votes to resolve the veto of the President.

Zaza Jgharkava

13 August 2015 22:54