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European Georgia, Free Democrats Join Forces for Mtatsminda By-Elections

Two opposition political parties – European Georgia and Free Democrats – agreed to join forces for the upcoming MP by-elections in the Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency of Tbilisi.

Shalva Shavgulidze, a former lawyer and the incumbent chairman of the Free Democrats, will enter the majoritarian race on behalf of the two parties. The decision was announced at a joint press briefing on March 21.

Speaking at the press briefing, Shalva Shavgulidze said the electoral alliance of the Free Democrats and the European Georgia will be the beginning of their long-term “strategic political cooperation.”

“Our cooperation is based on common vision, values and goals, including unacceptability of authoritarian governance, establishment of rule of law, introduction of real checks and balances mechanisms, small but effective government that is answerable to the constitution, unwavering protection of human rights, ensuring Georgia’s security, and of course, the guarantee of all of these – the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration,” he added.

“We have rejected political reprisals and are looking towards the future; we have a positive plan and concrete agenda on how to move this country forward,” Shavgulidze also noted.

Gigi Ugulava of the European Georgia spoke next, saying the two parties are united by “long-term strategic cooperation.”

“Although we have different political pasts, we are united with common values, in our asseement of the present and visions of the future… the hatred, faithlessness and cruelty that is being cultivated by the Georgian Dream party has to come to an end, and we will spare no efforts to make this happen with Mtatsminda by-elections,” Ugulava said.

MP by-elections in the Mtatsminda constituency will be held on Sunday, May 19. The seat became vacant after Salome Zurabishvili, a majoritarian lawmaker, was elected as the President of Georgia.

Shalva Shavgulidze, a former lawyer, who has handled several high-profile cases in Georgia, including the Girgvliani murder case, was elected in the Parliament in 2012 through the Georgian Dream coalition, of which Free Democrats party was a junior coalition partner. Shavgulidze quit the coalition in 2014 and joined the Free Democrats.

The Free Democrats ran independently in 2016 and failed to enter the Parliament with 4.63 percent of nationwide votes. The failure to enter the Parliament prompted departures of several senior party leaders, including the party chairman and former Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania. Alasania was replaced by Shavgulidze in February 2017.

The European Georgia party, which commands 20 seats in the legislature, was established after a split in the United National Movement in early 2017, following months of intra-party dispute.

The European Georgia ran independently in the October 2017 municipal elections and garnered 10.4% of aggregate votes nationwide. Their candidate in the 2018 Presidential elections, Davit Bakradze came third with 10.97%, trailing behind the ruling party-endorsed Salome Zurabishvili and Grigol Vashadze of the UNM-led coalition.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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