Georgian Dream’s Success Is Not a Victory for Moscow
We can always count on The Weekly Standard to provide its own peculiar and misleading ideological spin on events. Daniel Halper comments on a possible victory by the Georgian Dream coalition:
Still, the dynamics of the parliamentary system in Georgia may allow the governing party to hold a majority even if it loses the popular vote…but any victory for Ivanishvili will rightly be interpreted as a major blow to the last of the color revolutions that Moscow has worked so diligently to undermine [bold mine-DL].
This is a truly bizarre way to think about the political situation in Georgia today. If Ivanishvili’s coalition has won a majority of the proportional vote, as it appear to have done, that reflects the Georgian public’s dramatic loss of confidence in the ruling party and a triumph for a somewhat more pluralistic Georgia. Had this not happened, the consolidation of one-party rule in Georgia would have continued. If Georgia develops into a genuinely competitive democracy instead of the increasingly authoritarian and abusive one-party state that it was becoming, that’s good news for Georgians, and it will probably produce a better government that the one that took power in 2004. That might not please the Kremlin very much, since the Russian leaderhip might prefer to have Saakashvili’s party remain in power to use as a foil. If Georgian Dream were in a position to form a government, it might very well seek reconciliation with Russia, but it would do o because this better serves Georgian interests than the unremitting hostility of the recent years.
It is exactly Halper’s sort of bogus argument that I was anticipating when I wrote my post on the election yesterday. Georgian Dream’s apparent success is not a blow to Georgia’s “rose” revolution. If anything, it represents the partial realization of some aspirations of many of Saakashvili’s earlier supporters. It would have been a great embarrassment for Georgia if the ruling party had won an easy victory after the revelations of the abuses in Georgia’s prison system, to say nothing of all of the other abuses of power by the ruling party. This outcome is not a loss for the U.S. or the West. To the extent that it creates an opening for reduced tensions between Russia and Georgia, this outcome is a benefit to both countries and the region as a whole.
P.S. The idea that Saakashvili built a “genuine democracy” in Georgia is a bad joke. Georgia was classified as a “hybrid” (i.e., semi-authoritarian) state by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and Freedom House does not consider it an “electoral democracy.”