AnalysisPresidentials 2018

Georgian Dream Ponders Strategy, as Ivanishvili Meets Party Council

Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) is meeting the party leadership, the media reported.

The political council of GDDG is expected to hash out the strategy for the second round of Presidential polls. In the first round, Georgian Dream’s favorite candidate Salome Zurabishvili, has failed to capture support of the voters, finishing neck-in-neck with the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze, of UNM-led coalition.

Long vilified by the Georgian Dream, and repeatedly scorned by voters in successive elections, UNM seems to now have the momentum that might land its candidate a presidency. Although by Georgia’s new constitution, the president carries a largely ceremonial role, the office still has significant powers in wartime, and represents Georgia in international affairs.

Importantly, observers note, Vashadze’s potential victory would break both the myth of the invincibility of GDDG, which now holds the constitutional majority in the Parliament, and the perception of UNM’s inevitable decline.

Party adjusts rhetoric, puts up new lineup

The GDDG was visibly reeling under shock following the first round of the polls, which one party MP characterized as “the slap in the face” from the electorate. Salome Zurabishvili has fled the journalists, and did not field any questions when she pledged to continue the fight in the second round.

In the meantime, the lineup of GDDG team backing up Zurabishvili seems to have reshuffled. Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who led the charge in the first round – some say too aggressively – has been replaced by Kakha Kaladze, Secretary General of GDDG on the podium next to Zurabishvili yesterday.

Today, Tea Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice, has joined the fray. Tsulukiani has previously voiced skepticism over some of Zurabishvili’s more controversial remarks regarding Georgia’s responsibility for 2008 war with Russia.

Speaking to the media today Tsulukiani was careful to dissociate herself from the GDDG backbencher’s remarks who threatened with “civil war” yesterday, by saying “all MPs… have the right to freely express their opinion”.

Vociferous critic of UNM, she did, however, present Vashadze’s potential victory as a dramatic choice, which would resurrect “the regime of violence.”

“Mr. Grigol Vashadze is not fighting for the President’s office, he is seeking the right to pardon [former President] Mikheil Saakashvili, this is something that is most important for him,” Tsulukiani said, possibly giving a preview of the GDDG’s core message for the coming days.

Obviously anticipating this turn, both Mikheil Saakashvili and another former UNM official, Bacho Akhalaia have stated that they won’t seek pardon in case of Vashadze’s election.

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