Former Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze has been nominated by the opposition European Georgia party as its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. Bakradze’s candidacy was presented on July 21 at a party congress in Kutaisi, western Georgia.
A number of party leaders addressed the congress delegates before Bakradze’s acceptance speech, including Giga Bokeria, head of the political council, the party’s main governing body, and Gigi Ugulava, the general secretary.
Bokeria stressed in his remarks that Davit Bakradze would be “the strongest candidate” and the only one capable of challenging the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party.
“In order to succeed, Georgia needs the defeat of [Bidzina] Ivanishvili’s team and the victory of the European Georgia party; and the victory requires a strong team and a strong candidate,” he told the congress participants.
Gigi Ugulava spoke next, saying the country needs “a unifying president” against the backdrop of “an unprecedented societal confrontation.” “We need a president who will instill hope in the future, who will convince that tomorrow will be predictable.”
Bakradze echoed the sentiments in his address, telling the party delegates that his main objective would be to defeat hopelessness and poverty, rather than “to challenge individual persons or individual political groups.”
“We will, of course, fight against the incumbent government, against the Georgian Dream party, to defeat the political force that has brought about the sense of hopelessness … but in this pursuit, we will fight against the political force and not against individuals, because the people who supported or support other parties are our citizens as well,” he said.
Bakradze then stressed that the country needs “peaceful and conscious” change, and a president who will anchor the country forward “peacefully and in good sense.” “The country needs a president who will ensure a brighter and a more predictable future,” he added.
The candidate outlined his program priorities as well, saying as a president he would work with partner countries to legalize Georgian migrants, including through establishing worker quotas for them.
Bakradze also vowed to expand the study abroad programs for youth and pledged to work with the Parliament for “increasing the pensions provisions and introducing a better social system [for the elderly].”
He also stressed one of his priorities would be to “represent Georgia internationally in a due manner: to protect the country’s security, to de-occupy the country and to attract more investors for creating more jobs.”
The candidate also underlined that he would be an “active president.” “Georgia does not need a president who will be instructed by the government; Georgia needs a president, who will be with the people, for the people and by the people.”
Several opposition leaders have announced their intentions to run in the October polls, including Grigol Vashadze of the UNM-led coalition, Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor Party, Nino Burjanadze of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, and Zurab Japaridze of the New Political Center – Girchi.
The ruling party plans to nominate its candidate by the end of summer. The incumbent President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, is not yet decided on running for his second term.