The Republican Party, a liberal opposition party in Georgia, has decided to endorse the candidacy of UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze. The joint statement was made in Vashadze’s campaign headquarters in Tbilisi on November 2.
According to the chair of the Republican Party, Khatuna Samnidze, with the decision to endorse Vashadze, they wanted to highlight “how important it is to secure the victory of the opposition candidate and how important it is to take steps against the system … to show to Bidzina Ivanishvili that he is not invincible.”
Samnidze called on other parties to follow suit. “The voters gave us a signal in the first round that they do not see the third force and that they want the opposition parties, regardless of their political background and ideologies, to unite and ensure that at least the President’s office does not fall in the hands of Bidzina Ivanishvili.”
“Therefore, we consider that it is our responsibility [before the voters to support Vashadze]; it will be very irresponsible from their side, if some opposition parties decide to turn their backs to the Georgian society – if they say they like neither of the candidates and fail to voice their choice,” Samnidze added.
Levan Berdzenishvili, a veteran opposition politician, spoke after the meeting as well, telling reporters that the Republican Party would support the Vashadze campaign “both organizationally and intellectually.”
“Today, we have a choice between two candidates – Salome Zurabishvili and Grigol Vashadze – there is no other choice; any other decision will be a political fiasco; a political party that cannot make a decision between the two, practically admits that it is pursuing a path of self-destruction and I am sure some parties will reconsider their decisions,” he noted.
Grigol Vashadze hailed the decision in his press remarks, saying it would give “moral and intellectual” advantage to his election campaign. “They have vast experience in elections … in working with the regions … in constitutional affairs,” he stressed.
Vashadze said his political team and the Republican Party agree on three issues: Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, reform of the judiciary and pardoning of convicts arrested on charges of purchasing and keeping drug substances.
“The Republican Party and the united opposition agree that the existing political crisis has to be used to dismantle the system that – willingly or unwillingly – produces single-handed or single-party rule; this is our last chance and we should not let this chance slip of our hands,” he noted.
Failure to enter the parliament prompted departures of several senior party officials, including the party leader, former Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili, who went to establish a new political party – the Development Movement.
The Republican Party took part in the 2017 municipal elections, finishing with just 0.74% of votes (11,121).
Since 2007, the Republican Party has been a full member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, liberal-democratic political family in Europe.