South Ossetia before parliamentary elections: expert opinion

May 21, 2014 11:01 am

The parliamentary elections of sixth convocation of South Ossetia are set on Sunday, June 8. The nine parties who were included in the voting list are “Fydybasta,” “Nykhas,” “United Ossetia,” “Motherland,” “Unity of the People,” “People’s Party,” “New Ossetia,” “Unity” and the Communist Party of the Republic of South Ossetia. The elections will be held according to the “one person, one vote” rule, and the parties will have to clear a seven-percent vote threshold.

south ossetia

During the first pre-election televised debates that took place on May 13, party leaders highlighted the importance of the forthcoming event and placed their emphasis on the fact that the elections must be conducted in an open, honest and conflict-less manner. According to them, the new Parliament must be comprised of professionals and be able to bear the responsibility to the people of South Ossetia.

According to the parties’ election agendas, the potential MPs intend to focus on reforming the legal framework, legislation and the Constitution, stabilizing the social and political atmosphere, and resolving unemployment and housing issues.

Discussing other points that potentially could have been included in the new South Ossetian Parliament’s agenda, Arno Khidirbegishvili, publicist, political scientist, journalist, and head and editor-in-chief of “Gruzinform” information agency, mentioned that after the de-escalation of the 2008 conflict and a shift in power in Georgia, the republic may want to consider restoring official contacts with Tbilisi.

“As it is absurd for Georgia to isolate itself from Russia and completely ignore its neighbour, so it is stupid for Ossetia not to see that Georgia is its neighbour too,” he said in an interview to “PenzaNews” agency.

According to the expert, prolonged absence of amicable relations between the countries will only advance the destabilisation of the region.

“The older generation goes away, and the new generation has grown in this atmosphere of hostility, and this is very scary. If this happens, we’ll work in the favour of the West that yearns for nothing else but breaking the continuity of generations. The razor wire that already splits the cemeteries and the gardens in two will cut through our hearts, and then all will be lost,” the publicist emphasized.

In his turn, Zakaria Kutsnashvili, MP for the “Georgian Dream” party, stated that the new authorities of Tbilisi set the course for resolving any and all conflicts without use of force.

“We, the Georgians, abandoned the practice of solving the issues with force, regardless of whether we can solve them this way or not,” the politician said.

According to him, despite the considerable frictions between Georgia and South Ossetia, any steps by the former will be taken only in peaceful manner, by means of talks and exclusively with the aim of achieving cooperation.

Further dwelling on the problem of stability in the region, Uwe Halbach, Senior Research Fellow of Europe and Eurasia Research Division for the German Foundation for Science and Politics, noted that

Also, he pointed out the issues that the members of the new Parliament must focus on.

“The Parliament should be composed of parties that have a clear and convincing program for better governance, transparency, fighting endemic corruption and coping with other urgent challenges for South Ossetia,” Uwe Halbach said.

However, in the researcher’s opinion, the real political scene is far from convincing programs, and currently there is no force that would change the political make-up.

According to Uwe Halbach, the fact that only nine parties managed to undertake all the steps necessary to take part in the elections is an indicator for this.

Grigory Shvedov, editor-in-chief of “Kavkazskiy Uzel” web-based media, also pointed out the obstacles on the way of the political parties to the Parliament.

“We can see that 9 parties out of 14 got a chance to take part in the elections, and ‘Kavkazskiy Uzel’ had published a thorough note on the pre-election process. Ideally, 14 parties would have got into the Parliament. It is obvious that even those nine parties that were allowed by the Central Electoral Commission to participate in the elections won’t all be in the Parliament – one needs to take the seven percent barrier into account, and only 4-5 parties will be able to overcome it, and no more,” the expert emphasized.

However, in his opinion, there is still some room for optimism.

“Those people who wanted democracy and free elections in South Ossetia didn’t manage to succeed much, but, if truth be told, nine parties in the election is already a good sign. We can recall that there are three parties in the current Parliament, and it will be a considerable achievement if at least five will be allowed in after the elections,” the web-based media editor-in-chief said.

Speaking of the relationship between South Ossetia and its neighbours, Grigory Shvedov mentioned the issue of the republic’s possible merge with Russia.

In his opinion, the opinion of both the citizens and the inhabitants of South Ossetia must be considered when approaching this issue.

“There is do doubt the authorities are eager for South Ossetia to join Russia, but I am not sure whether it meets the interests of South Ossetian people. I think the independence of South Ossetia will benefit them more than the merge with Russia,” Grigory Shvedov emphasized.

According to Andrei Areshev, leading expert on the South Caucasus for the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the new Parliament will have to deal with other, no less important problems, such as property ownership, transport, pipelines and power supply issues, tax system effectiveness, and more.

He noted that the possibility of a multiparty Parliament may help solving these issues in the current conditions.

“I think it may be good right now that there are so many parties, because it will help unlock and reveal the workforce potential within certain parties on a much larger scale,” he emphasized.

According to the political scientist, South Ossetia has a crucial position in the region.

“It is an independent state which is recognized by Russia, but it also shares borders with North Ossetia and Russian North Caucasus,” Andrei Areshev reminded.

According to the expert, this fact, together with the political atmosphere in the world, makes peace, stability and absolute absence of any conflicts in the region vital for resolving current issues and the country’s successful social and economic development in the period of time after the elections.

“South Ossetia went through an incredibly difficult period of time, when for over 15 years people had no actual safety, when they lived in a slowly-edging war and sometimes in the center of warfare. This left its mark not only on the political and party system, but also on its economic ties and society structure. In my opinion, a slow process has been underway since 2008 – an difficult and slow one, but still a process – of party and political system formation which conforms with the interests of South Ossetian people and the problems it will have to deal with after the elections,” Andrei Areshev concluded.

From April 28 to May 9, 2014, South Ossetian information center “Yr” held an opinion poll in the city of Tskhinvali in order to identify people’s election preferences.

67% of respondents expressed their readiness to participate in the elections on June 8, while 20% said they do not plan to do so.

Among those who said they will go to the polls, the majority of respondents plan to vote for “United Ossetia” led by Anatoly Bibilov (35.4%), while 25.8% and 8.7% support “New Ossetia” chaired by David Sanakoev and the Communist Party of the Republic of South Ossetia commanded by Stanislav Kochiev, respectively.

%d bloggers like this: