The results from Georgia’s October 1 parliamentary elections have overturned the conventional wisdom. Contrary to most expectations, the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, captured a commanding 85 seats in the country’s 150-person parliament. For its part, the United National Movement, the party of the still-powerful President Mikheil Saakashvili, is heading into the opposition.
In the four years since war broke out in August 2008 between Georgia and its erstwhile suzerain Russia, more questions than answers remain. To date, most literature concerning the conflict has focused on assigning blame—a dismal, irresolvable exercise that hinges on establishing the conflict’s origins (2008? 2004? 1993? 1991? 1989? 1922?).1 But far less has been written about what role the West ought to play to bring stability to the region—if not outright reconciliation—and the war’s impact on democracy in Georgia.