Polarities in Georgian Politics: Where are Resources for Moderation?
Moderate political discourse, compared with radical discourse and decisions, locate the former in the “middle” of the political spectrum. Some politicians, within the context of upcoming elections, call moderates’ existence in society inappropriate. While moderate political discourse is perceived as unbiased in scientific and academic literature and a significant number of people support it, highlighting the strength of this sector of society, their political impact seems less expected. So why is it associated with a “lack of a political position” in Georgia? These topics were raised during the discussion “Polarities in Georgian Politics: Where are Resources for Moderation?” held at HBF on July 4, 2012.
Speakers during the discussion included Charles Fairbanks, political scientist, professor at Ilia State University, and senior researcher at the Hudson Institute; Iago Kachkachishvili, social scientist and professor at Tbilisi Ivane Javakhishvili State University; and Tamar Chugoshvili, lawyer and chair of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
Charles Fairbanks raised the question: “Is political discourse and action in Georgia extremist?” He stated that the “majority probably thinks that this is how it is.” Extremism may have many different sources, but one of the most obvious sources is a Soviet political discourse, Fairbanks argued. He stated that the civil society and “mediator associations, or middle rings, are very weak in Georgia.”
Iago Kachkachishvili spoke of the resources for moderation existing in Georgian society. He believes that one of the most important is that the opposition coalition opposes taking control of the government through violent means and believes that elections are the only legitimate way to come to power. Kachkachishvili argued that these value differences also promote moderation, as they will prevent the Georgian Dream from forming into a political monolith and usurping power, as occurred in the case of the United National Movement. The “compromises that the government allowed while dealing with its opposition under conditions of strict competition” also serve as a resource for moderation.
“During the events of the past month, I had a feeling that before this we were objects of attack from the government, and now we are attacked by both sides. I see the need to constantly talk about the role of the civil society, especially during election processes, along with the government’s attitude towards our activities,” said Tamar Chugoshvili. Why do we think that civil society is not strong today? Is this the truth, or is it a stereotype? What is civil society’s role in contributing to the successes of the past years? Chugoshvili believes that organizations that observe elections should be unbiased. However, she doubts that the society expects that.