Georgia’s parliament has approved four people from the electoral list of the opposition Alliance of Patriots party to fill the seats won by the party in October’s election.
The four businessmen, who defied the party’s boycott of parliament, agreed to take the places of the party’s leaders higher on the party list.
Gela Mikadze, Pridon Injia, and Davit Zilpimiani — who were placed fifth, seventh, and eighth in the party’s electoral list — joined fourth place member Avtandil Enukidze in going against their party and endorsing parliamentary seats.
According to official results finalised on 3 December, the Alliance of Patriots won four parliamentary seats in the 31 October election. Like the other seven opposition groupings to gain seats, the Alliance of Patriots have boycotted parliament citing election violations.
Several opposition parties, including the Alliance of Patriots, have gone so far as to apply to legally renounce their seats in protest. The move followed unsuccessful negotiations between the opposition and Georgian Dream since the 31 October vote.
The strategies of different opposition groups, however, have varied since.
While never allying with other opposition groups, Irma Inashvili, Giorgi Lomia, and Gocha Tevdoradze, the leaders of the Alliance of Patriots, followed others in applying in December to renounce their parliamentary mandates.
On 5 January, while skipping earlier applications from other opposition groups, Georgian Dream lawmakers were quick to vote in favour of terminating the mandates of the Alliance of Patriots leaders.
A fifth round of talks between the ruling party and opposition groups has not yet been scheduled.
The four recently confirmed MPs have enabled the ruling party to dispute claims from the opposition that the 10th convocation of parliament is a one-party parliament.
Georgian Dream Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze, welcomed on 5 January that ‘the Alliance of Patriots entered parliament without their Russian component’ — referring to the party’s leaders.
The Alliance of Patriots have been the most significant opposition group running on a firm anti-NATO platform.
‘This process should continue and we should not see any political power in parliament that is anti-Western’, Khobakhidze added.
Georgian Dream have also accused the largest opposition group, the United National Movement Party (UNM) of engaging in anti-Western rhetoric since the election. Members of the party expressed frustration in December over an apparent push by Western diplomats for all MPs to endorse their mandates.
[Read more on OC Media: Leader of Georgia’s largest opposition party announces retirement]
The four opposition MPs who entered parliament on 5 January have attempted to portray themselves as an ardent pro-Western group.
Pridon Injia, one of the recently confirmed MPs who argued on Monday that there was no enough evidence to claim the election was ‘rigged’ on 31 October, also announced that he and his colleagues planned to form a new opposition group in the parliament, under the name the European Socialists.
All four former Alliance of Patriots allies are Georgian businessmen and financial contributors to their former party, having no public track record of advocating for socialist policies in Georgia.
While this is the first time opposition MPs have deviated from a universal opposition boycott of parliament, cracks among opposition parties began to appear a month ago. Disagreements in the united opposition platform, which the Alliance of Patriots are not a part of, escalated throughout December.
[Read more on OC Media: Georgia’s opposition divided on ‘Serbian’ model]