Where does Georgia go from here?

The unrest in Georgia comes just four years after the optimism of the Rose Revolution. A state of emergency has been declared in the country. And both the West and Georgia's regional neighbours are wondering about the integrity of democracy there.

On November 2, thousands gathered in the streets of Tbilisi in what started as a peaceful demonstration to demand the resignation of the Georgian President.
 
Days of protests ended in violent clashes and an emergency decree.
 
The West has been cautious in its response. As police clamped down on protesters, the U.S. State Department called for “constructive dialogue”.
 
On Thursday Mikail Saakashvili announced that early Presidential elections would be held on 5 January 2008.
 
Saakashvili added that there would be a parallel referendum to let the nation decide on the date of parliamentary elections.
 
Many Western nations welcomed the decision.
 
Ariel Cohen from the International Studies Institute summed up the sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
“From the European perspective, from the American perspective, return to the rule of law is indeed a high priority,” Mr Cohen said.
 
Looking ahead
 
The prospects don't seem all that rosy for Georgia's numerous opposition groups.
 
Analysts aren't sure whether they have enough time to prepare for the election or to agree on a single candidate to run against Saakashvili.
 
With just two months to go before polling day, the opposition parties have yet to choose candidates.  But the problem gets worse.  Many of their leaders are wanted on charges of treason or accused of links to Russia.
 
Aleksey Makarkin from the Centre of Political Technologies says Saakashvili has played his hand perfectly.  By calling an election, despite having used force to end protests, “he looks like a peacekeeper”, he said. 
 
“Had he conceded before the riot police broke down the protests, the opposition would’ve been the winner. He chose the perfect moment, when the opposition was weak,” Mr Makarkin said.