TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian challenger Bidzina Ivanishvili is extending a hand to the whole spectrum of opposition parties, promising to cooperate with all of them in order to remove the ruling party from power.
At the November 1 press conference he was asked whether he is going to cooperate with all parties.
“We will cooperate with every force. But cooperation doesn’t mean union,” he added.
This signals a shift in strategy which seems an attempt at gathering all forces which are against the sitting president. In his open letter which launched his campaign three weeks ago, the financier ruled out cooperation with several opposition parties for various reasons, including the Christian Democrats and the New Rights party.
Those parts of the opposition were offended by his letter at the time, but welcome his latest statements and are ready to cooperate with him, given on the right kind of circumstances.
Levan Vepkhvadze of the Christian Democrats says Ivanishvili changed his positions about cooperating with opposition parties and this is a good background for cooperation. But he also adds that there are still some unclear issues, and without clearing them up it’s impossible to discuss cooperation.
“While releasing his first statement Ivanishvili had messianic ideas and was quoting the Savior, saying that he came to divide; but now he stands on more solid, realistic and pragmatic ground or he was revised where he stands. His statements that he is ready to cooperate with every force, should be rated more positive,” says Vepkhvadze, member of the party which according to some polls, which, though disputed, show it to be the largest opposition party in the country.
“Our position is the same – everyone should cooperate, because I doubt that anyone will be able to come into government with 2/3 majority. It is clear that cooperation should build on specific issues, but these he has not yet suggested,” Vepkhvadze adds.
Pikria Chikhradze of the New Rights party also accepts the businessman’s invitation: “I can hardly imagine cooperation with Bidzina Ivanishvili now, but sooner or later we will have to.”
She says that Ivaishvili’s statement about cooperation with all opposition parties is welcome, because the New Rights party has always been against polarlization in politics.
“Ivanishvili’s new message about cooperation with parties obviously appears to have changed and it is good, because we are against demarcation lines. We had always argued with Saakashvili that he divided society into his own people and those not with him, like with relatives.”
“As for cooperation, sooner or later we will have to cooperate with every force on different levels. It will be when in parliament or before. But we had already stated at the beginning that we are not going to unite with anyone, and our position is unchangeable in this regard,” Pikria Chikhradze says.
Ivanishvili has not given any further explanation about what he meant in his statement, but within that part of the opposition he is already cooperating with, the latest move is taken as a sign that the opposition have become convinced of the need to cooperate with Ivanishvili and now tries to find ways to get an alliance working.
Gia Tsagareishvili from the Free Democrats, the party with the closest relations with Ivanishvili, says: “After getting familiar with Ivanishvili’s ideas it is clear with whom he is going to cooperate and not. Despite whether they like it or not, the Christian Democrats and the New Rights party will have to accept the fact that political activities will be implemented without their participation, after Ivanishvili’s appearance in Georgian politics.”
“Vepkhvadze and Gamkrelidze [New Rights Party] could find more resources to agree with the government rather than wth Alasania [Free Democrats] or other real opposition leaders,” Tsagareishvili says, hinting to the fact that the New Rights party and the Christian Democrats struck a deal with the government.
According to him, the changed positions of these parties is unclear. But he sees it as a significant shift, because ‘it seems they felt that the present government’s days are counted and they understand that they will need to find common ways with Ivanishvili, so they are getting prepared to get onboard.”