On October 28, Georgians went to polls to elect their fifth president. Runoff between the top two contenders – the ruling party-backed Salome Zurabishvili and the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze – will be held later this month or early December.
Below you can find various public and political leaders, including some of the former presidential candidates, expressing their positions over the upcoming runoff.
Leaning towards Salome Zurabishvili/Georgian Dream: 615 572 votes in the first round
Sandro Bregadze, Georgian March (Boycotted the first round) We have information that groups from various sides are getting ready for violent actions; so, we decided to reject a boycott and actively get involved in the election process. We address Georgian Dream and its chairman, Bidzina Ivanishvili – if you want that Georgian March and other organizations support your candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, whom we opposed previously, in the second round, you will have to meet our two demands. The first – the Georgian Dream should urgently withdraw the bill on marijuana cultivation and promise the Georgian population that this law will never be submitted to the Parliament for consideration. The second – the both candidates have low legitimacy and the government with such low legitimacy cannot rule the country; especially it cannot have the constitutional majority in the Parliament. It is necessary to set the date of early elections. This is our categorical demand and we will take to the streets and be radical in our demands.
Ada Marshania, Alliance of Patriots (did not officially field or support a candidate in the first round): We will not vote for the Nazi [referring to the National Movement]. Therefore, we have to support Salome Zurabishvili.
Not declaring for either/free vote:
Kakha Kukava, Free Georgia (Votes in the first round: 21 186): Personally I have no desire to support either of them. Neither will I call on my supporters to cast ballots in favor of any of them. Let them stay at home and the remaining part of the society will decide who will become the President of Georgia.
Davit Usupashvili, Development Movement (Votes in the first round: 36 037): Unfortunately, neither Vashadze-Saakashvili, nor Zurabishvili-Ivanishvili-Partskhaladze give me an opportunity to express political support to any of them in the second round. I cannot see any potential in any of them to unify the society, as well as the team whom I would trust Georgia. Levan Samushia, Free Democrats (supported David Usupashvili in the first round): It is absolutely inadmissible that Free Democrats will call on its supporters to support Salome Zurabishvili. We, Free Democrats, do not act according to where the center of gravity bends to. We have our responsibility, our principles and we follow these principles. We categorically rule out Salome Zurabishvili’s candidate; neither can we call on anybody to support Grigol Vashadze.
Zurab Japaridze, New Political Center-Girchi (Votes in the first round: 36 034): I have already stated my position publicly, but I am not going to call on my supporters to go to elections and support any candidate. The supporters of Girchi are people with free thinking. I think that the majority of them will not cast ballots and the votes of the rest of them will be divided… In my opinion, neglecting the elections is no solution; it is equal to declining any responsibility. I cannot say whether Vashadze is better or Zurabishvili. Both candidates are categorically unacceptable for me. Both of them are the rock bottom.
Leaning towards Grigol Vashadze/UNM: 601 224 votes in the first round
Khatuna Samnidze, Republican Party (Did not take part in the first round): The elections have demonstrated public mood. The society told the ruling team that we do not want the presidency under the Georgian Dream. In the present situation, when we have to choose between two candidates and when we see Salome Zurabishvili as Ivanishvili’s representative, we support opposition. Bidzina Ivanishvili should see in the second round that he has not boundless capacities and this one branch will be in the opposition’s hands that will trigger no instability. When the party’s governing body decides by majority, it already is the decision made by the party.
Shalva Natelashvili, Labor Party (Votes in the first round: 59 651): Freedom of choice is an achievement of the mankind gained by the world through a great struggle. Therefore, I can neither oblige nor prohibit anyone [to vote for any candidate]. I know one thing for sure that my voters cannot stand Ivanishvili and his candidate. Therefore, I know that if they go to elections, they will not vote for them. [Although it seems to be an announcement of the free vote, Natelashvili seems to be declaring clearly against Zurabishvili].
Davit Bakradze of the European Democrats declared himself for Vashadze immediately after the first round. He got 174 849 votes in the first round.