President Saakashvili dismissed the opposition’s calls for holding early parliamentary elections in spring, 2009 saying that Georgia would not afford snap polls in the light of the current world financial crisis.
He also said that holding of frequent elections would not be a sign of “statehood.”
“There is a difference between the State and Bantustan, banana republic,” Saakashvili said. “If we want to make fun of our country and hold two, three elections per year, anytime when someone is [unhappy] with the election [results], then it would mean that we are no longer a state. This would absolutely amount to demonstration of suicide and our people are wise enough not to be ready for that suicide.”
Saakashvili was speaking at a televised meeting with a group of businessmen representing small and medium enterprises. His remarks came in a response to a question by one of the businessman, who asked the President to comment on “rumors that there will be early parliamentary elections in spring.”
Saakashvili responded that Georgia had already had three elections in 2008 – the presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Adjara. He also said that in 2009 there will be MP by-elections in several single-mandate consistencies to fill the posts of the majorities MPs in the parliament. These seats became vacant after some of the lawmakers elected in the single-mandate constituencies moved into the executive government. He also said that local elections will follow in 2010.
“What the elections are? What the elections during the [financial] crisis are? Elections are spending money for politics, instead for the people; elections are spending tens and hundreds of millions of Lari for the campaign and for endorsing concrete politicians in the Parliament and for the President – in this particular case I was endorsed as the President, but it cost money; and I would have wished to spend this money on other programs for our people,” Saakashvili said.
Then he brought up an example of Ukraine and said that there “my friends” President Victor Yushchenko and PM Yulia Timoshenko “were like cat and dog with each other, but they had to reconcile with each other and say no to [early] elections, because there was [a financial] crisis and Ukraine, which is ten-fold larger than Georgia, has no money for elections.”
“So in this situation wherein everyone says no to this [early elections], announcing that we are holding [early] elections would mean that we are spending money – which we do not have – not for our people; not for the economy; not for development and not for rescuing Georgia, but for politicians and for their campaign; this is a choice which we all have to make,” Saakashvili said.
He said that he understood those opposition politicians who have failed to gain a seat in the Parliament “and now they want to have [early elections].”
“But let’s ask ourselves: what is a rational way out of this situation?” Saakashvili said. “I think that the rational solution is the government, which is in a dialogue with people, with the opposition, with the business community and with even a small group of society.”
“All the rest is a way towards deadlock; road towards making with our own hands something, which my friend was recently telling to his 150 million people – Georgia will get in chaos on its own and will collapse on its own,” he said.
Saakashvili was apparently referring to the remarks by Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin, who said in a lengthy televised annual Q&A session with the Russian citizens on December 4: “I think that the Georgian people will themselves make a decision about what kind of responsibility should be assumed by those politicians who have led the country to these gravest and dramatic consequences [as a result of the August war].”
Saakashvili also said that the authorities had “never been afraid of elections.”
“Because we know it better than anyone else how to win elections fairly, but it is not about elections, it is not about personal ego; this is a matter of whether we will be the successful state or not; at this stage success means bringing Georgia out of the [financial] crisis with minimal losses,” he said.
He also told the businessmen that they understood it very well “how frequent elections hit the business community and what does it mean when money is spent on politicians and not on the economy and the people.”