Veni Vidi Vici!

The newly elected parliament of Georgia approved the cabinet of ministries headed by Bidzina Ivanishvili On October 25. The Georgian tycoon kept his word given to the citizens of Georgia to celebrate victory over the already former ruling party UNM (United National Movement) in the parliamentary elections held on October 2 and become Prime-Minister of the state.

Earlier, neither political position, nor opposition seriously considered his statements, noting that Ivanishvili hadn’t had experience of being a politician. As a result, many had expected that he could have shared the fate of another Georgian tycoon– Badri Patarkatsishvili, who once challenged the UNM. Finally, Patarkatsishvili was forced to flee from the country and later found dead at home under odd circumstances. But the realm proved opposite.

“Veni Vidi Vici” (or “I came, I saw, I conquered”) is a Latin sentence reportedly written by Julius Caesar in 47 BC as a comment on his short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus in the city of Zela (currently known as Zile, in Turkey). Veni, Vidi, and Vici are first person perfect forms of the three Latin verbs Venire, Videre, and Vincere.

‘Veni’ (‘he came’)

Ivanishvili appeared in the right place at the right time. The political opposition of Georgia was dismantled and fragmented; the UNM had no doubts that it would have won the parliamentary elections; as a result, Georgian civil society as well as international organizations and strategic partners were afraid that the ruling party could repeat the path passed by Vladimir Putin in the past; particularly, the UNM could win the parliamentary elections, form a one-party parliament and Mikhail Saakashvili would have occupied the post of Prime-Minister of Georgia, thus keeping reins of power over the country after his second-presidential term would have passed.

Though challenging the government at the right time, Ivanishvili instantly became a leader who had enough power to unite the oppositional forces around him and restore the trust of the voters towards a discredited Georgian opposition; on the other hand, he appeared as a long-expected appropriate alternative for the existing government in the eyes of the West.

‘Vidi’ (‘he saw’)

The Georgian tycoon not only ‘came’ in the right place at the right time, but also he clearly analyzed and understood the distributions of the forces on the political battlefield of Georgia. He used past experience of his predecessor to avoid common mistakes.

One of the main flaws of his predecessors was the abandonment of the strategic partners of Georgia, such as the US and the EU. Broadly speaking, neither Levan Gachechiladze (former leader of Georgian opposition who lost presidential elections held in 2008), nor Badri Patarkatsishvili, had the political support of the West. The Western allies considered both politicians as inappropriate alternatives to the regime of Saakashvili and his political team.

Consequently, the first political step of Ivanishvili was to consolidate the pro-Western political parties and through them, assure the West that the new force must be allowed to govern the country; and that the new government will maintain a pro-Western orientation as well as the aspiration to join NATO.

On October 15, the newly appointed US ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, attending a civil Society Forum noted that, “we are confident that Georgia’s future is in good hands.” The gained ‘confidence’ of the US is a result of the right perception of distribution of forces on the political battlefield of Georgia, as well as the tremendous work done by Ivanishvili to prove that he is ‘axios’ (‘worthy’).

‘Vici’ (‘he conquered’)

As a result of his calculated actions, Ivanishvili became a leader of the joint Georgian opposition backed by the support of Georgia’s strategic Western allies. The victory over the UNM, which already exceeded all limits of trust and confidence, was inevitable.

The inevitability relied on two realms. The first one was the external and internal political realities. The victory of the UNM would have directly been considered as a duplication of the well-known and unappreciated political system of Russia. Both, the West, as well as Georgia’s civil society, desired to avoid such a deviation from the process of democratic development.

On the other hand, it was clear that the political misdeeds of the ruling party resulted in the loss of credibility and support of the voters; while Bidzina Ivanishvili, famous for his charity activities was ‘in the prime of his political life’. Consequently, the Georgian tycoon ‘conquered’ the reins of power despite harsh opposition from the ruling party and its leader Saakashvili.

Ivanishvili revealed the skills of the leader and politician through having a clear understanding of the political ‘game rules’ and the distribution of forces that led to the flash and absolute victory over the former ruling party in the parliamentary elections held on October 2.

Despite the fact that his team didn’t get a constitutional majority as the Georgian tycoon was aiming for on October 25, it’s definitely his ‘triumph’ on the political battlefield, which can be described as ‘Veni Vidi Vici!’ (‘He came, he saw, he conquered’). And Georgia’s civil society as well as the West should keep a close eye on him and his political team to be sure that the ‘triumph’ won’t lead the country in the wrong direction.

The original article was published by GeorgiaToday. It is available here. PDF version.

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