The city was buzzling with energy the days leading up to the parliamentary elections. September was very hectic. Workers were working day and night – even until midnight on sundays – obviously in order to finish various projects by election day: roads, a new futuristic theatre, the new spectacular ‘citizen building’ etc to show the productivity of the sitting government.
When I walked the central streets of Tbilisi on the morning of September 28th, the city was absolutely quiet and clean. Something was in the air. I understood that loads of people would turn up to the opposition rally that day, loads. Yes, it did turn out to be a massive rally, an expected 200 000 according to independent media reports.
Come election day. Already around noon – way before any preliminary results had been estimated – the opposition called for their supporters to gather on freedom square at 1900 to ‘celebrate their victory’. Pretty cocky, but I guess they were pretty self confident. The winds were indeed on their side. I had the evening shift but made it to freedom square around 22 to witness the celebrations. The pictures speak for themselves. As for me, living in the neighbourhood of freedom sq needed ear plugs that night and a couple of nights to come, as the celebrations continued.
Few expected such a smooth democratic shift of power in this young post-Soviet state, many were (are) probably quite impressed so far. Indeed, handing over power in the post-soviet sphere without violence or accusations of fraud is pretty much unheard of.
So, now what? The new parliament had their first session a couple of days ago, marking the inauguration of the new government. The new political figures have yet to be tested, so the near future will be interesting, in particular for us monitoring the conflict – how the politics will change and how that will affect the conflict dynamics; new negotiators at the meetings with the de facto authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia…
Oh yeah – the workers – haven’t seen them since September! It is really interesting. The country has really paused since the election, waiting to see what will happen next. Even the constructions which were so intensively worked on before are now on hold. Will the new government continue the constructions, or even dismantle them, as they have suggested in some cases!?