For Georgia 2008 will enter history primarily for its August war with Russia, which shortly imposed dire security threats on civilians, which destroyed large military and infrastructural assets of the Georgian state and which left the country with large-scale economic damage.
Even though political parties shortly stood united behind president Saakashvili, they reinstated their pre-war opposition to him with renewed zeal soon after the fighting ended.
Go-it-alone electoral reform
The UNM’s go-it alone electoral reform process in early 2008, and its perceived fraud during the January presidential and May parliamentary elections had earlier created a post-Rose Revolution low in relations between the ruling and opposition parties.
During and after the elections, many of the established opposition parties failed to clear the threshold or deliberately opted out of their entitled seats in parliament, only to fight government from outside the political arena that they considered corrupt.
Meanwhile, their unsuccessful election results and the lack of interest in policy driven government criticism has prevented many of them from providing further institutional development.
As 2008 ended and opposition force to Saakshvili grew, multiparty dialogue was further away than ever. Parties’ institutional paralysis had deepened, which added to the failure to develop political party - civil society relations.
These unusually tumultuous political developments had large effects on the NIMD’s political party programme. The tense political climate that grew with the November 2007 street protests, heightened with the two ensuing elections in 2008 and peaked after the August war with Russia contaminated most of the environment for dialogue in which NIMD seeks to work.