Friday, April 10, 2009

Is political change coming in Georgia?

As I read this NYT article, I remembered a conversation I had with an Azerbaijani woman last year. She was bemoaning the lack of political change in her country, and pointed the acquiescent attitude of the Azerbaijani populace as one explanation for the authoritarian government there. She had been to Georgia, and recalled how ordinary women had erected barricades to stop traffic. This feisty attitude of the people made it harder for a dictator to dominate the Georgians, she argued.

I'm not sure if this is true, but certainly it does seem that the Georgians are pretty good about making their voices heard. What would be the result if the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili felt he could repress the demonstrators with impunity? Indeed, would he be more likely to repress them if his good friend John McCain were president?

(The above is an icon in an abandoned church near Sighnaghi, Georgia, that I photographed last summer.)


Anonymous said...

I was in Georgia last month, and I was talking to some expats that worked for NGOs and other international orgs. They seemed to dismiss the opposition in Georgia because of their divided agenda and lack of a cohesive alternative platform. At least there's an opposition. Maybe they don't know what they'll do if they get in to power, but they're lucky to be having the conversation. Azerbaijan is still a long way from that kind of a debate.

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