The Georgian Dream Quits the EU-brokered Deal
Ruling Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze announced the EU-brokered April 19 deal as “annulled,” claiming it “served its purpose and exhausted itself 100 days after signing, with the majority of opposition lawmakers having refrained from joining”.
Known as the “Charles Michel agreement,” after the European Council President who personally helped broker it, the deal was supposed to pave the way for at least formal cooperation between the Georgian Dream and several leading opposition parties following last year’s disputed parliamentary elections.
Under the deal, the Georgian Dream had agreed to hold a snap parliamentary election should it fail to garner at least 43% of the vote in the local elections slated for this fall. This was meant to demonstrate that the ruling party could, in fact, get a decisive portion of the vote, following opposition claims that the 48% it won in last year’s election was ill-gotten.
Opposition parties insist that the Georgian Dream walked out on the deal after realizing that it will not be able to clear that threshold. “They realized that they have a zero chance of getting the 43%“, said Zurab Japaradize, leader of the opposition party Girchi – For Greater Freedom.
“Today, we have seen official confirmation that Georgia’s foreign policy orientation has changed,” claimed independent opposition member Salome Samadashvili.
Announcing the decision to pull out, Kobakhidze said they would call new elections if they won less than 53% of the vote in the upcoming local elections, but only if they saw a possibility of a coalition government “judging from the behaviour of the opposition”. Kobakhidze said that this was an act of “goodwill” by the Georgian Dream.
Georgian Dream, in turn, blamed the largest opposition party, the United National Movement, which has not signed the agreement but had informally agreed to another of its main tenets: to end its boycott of the parliament.
“The majority of the opposition members refused to sign the April 19 document, which primarily aimed to deescalate political polarization,” Kobakhidze said. “The Georgian Dream and the United National Movement are the two opposite poles in this polarized environment, so polarization will not be reduced or ended if one of these parties does not sign the document.”
Several Western officials criticized the government for walking back other tenets of the agreement related to electoral and judicial reforms. “To be fair: the biggest opposition party, UNM, did not even make an effort to sign this joint agreement with the EU. So, both sides are playing a terrible political game on the backs of their citizens. All this does NOT help at all,” the MEP Viola von Cramon said.