Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who serves as the general secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, has said the presidential elections sent an important message to the authorities.
Kaladze made the announcement at the party headquarters on October 29, few hours after preliminary results put the GDDG-backed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, neck-to-neck against UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze.
‘Excess’ confidence ahead of polls
Tbilisi Mayor opened his remarks by thanking the GDDG supporters for voting in the elections, as well as the observers for monitoring the voting process and the police for ensuring safety.
Kaladze said the elections clarified “several important things.” He stressed it confirmed that the GDDG authorities, together with the Georgian people, have managed to establish “a [genuine] democracy.”
“That there will be runoff elections for revealing the country’s president, speaks to the high political standard that has been established [by the GDDG] and that has been recognized by the international community and our citizens,” Tbilisi Mayor noted.
Kaladze then stressed the voters “have conveyed their message” to the authorities that “a lot needs to be changed in the country, and needs to be changed quickly, effectively and in the interests of the people.”
“We all were aware of this to a certain degree … [but] unfortunately, as all governments, concentration of power has given us excess confidence, and therefore, on some occasions, we did not have adequate feedback, communication with the public,” he added.
“That we relied on internal polling only was one of the reasons as well; it further weakened our perception of public attitudes,” Kaladze also noted, adding that the party “awakening,” will be the beginning for “new and effective responses, quick changes.”
“Management and communication needs to be strengthened in the political team; decisions have to be made quickly and more effectively, and be oriented on results and on people’s needs,” Kaladze noted, adding that this was exactly what Bidzina Ivanishvili, the GDDG leader, spoke of when he returned to the helm of the ruling party.
“The message is accepted and we are ready to respond with effective steps,” he quipped.
‘Objective’ reasons for electoral upset
Kaladze also said low electoral performance had its “objective explanations.”
“The propagandistic machine and the extremely negative campaign [against Salome Zurabishvili], coupled with dire economic situation, has had its influence; we were reacting to our opponents [attacks], and meanwhile, real societal problems stayed aside,” he said.
Tbilisi Mayor then noted that one of the reasons could also be the decision of the ruling party not to nominate a candidate from its own ranks. Kaladze suggests backing of an independent candidate “has weakened the voter mobilization process.”
“We are sure that in the second round, when we have two political poles, when the choice is between lies and truth, between violence and freedom, there will be maximum mobilization and we all will win the presidential elections [decisively], Tbilisi Mayor stressed.”