Shalva Shavgulidze, a majoritarian candidate in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi constituency, as well as Nino Goguadze, Sandro Baramidze and Giorgi Kitiashvili quit the Free Democrats party, citing “unhealthy situation in the party board.”
Speaking at a news briefing on August 20, party chairman Shavgulidze, whose majoritarian bid is backed by major opposition parties, said the party board “unanimously” agreed to the creation of an electoral bloc with European Georgia for the upcoming October parliamentary elections. However, Shavgulidze stated, a month ago, most of the board unexpectedly changed their position on the electoral list and demanded naming FD’s Vakhtang Mchedlidze as number two on the joint list – a request opposed by Shavgulidze.
Shavgulidze also spoke about other circumstances that have contributed to his mistrust towards the members of the board, citing the presence of one of the board members at the presentation of the ruling Georgian Dream’s party majoritarian candidates as an example.
“As the chairman of the party, I can no longer assume responsibility for the actions of these board members. I am not sure that whether FD will stay committed to the opposition agreement on not setting up a coalition government with the Georgian Dream if it enters the Parliament,” he said.
“I would be glad if my fears do not come true and the people remaining in Free Democrats do not appear in Georgian Dream’s pro-Russian government,” Shavgulidze noted, adding that the leavers will cooperate with European Georgia party “individually, without party affiliation” and run in the elections on a joint ticket.
Earlier, on August 3, another member of Free Democrats, Levan Samushia quit the party and joined Lelo for Georgia, which nominated Samushia as a majoritarian candidate for Tbilisi’s Didube-Chughureti district.
In March 2019, Free Democrats, and European Georgia joined forces for the 2019 MP by-elections and named joint candidate, Shalva Shavgulidze in the Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency of Tbilisi. Shavgulidze was defeated by Georgian Dream’s candidate Vladimer Kakhadze in the runoffs.
Response By FD leadership
Tamar Kekenadze, Secretary-General of the party held a press conference today in response to the quitting of her former teammates.
She slammed Shavgulidze’s statements as offensive, criticizing former party chairman for his “malign epithets” voiced undeservedly against the former colleagues.
Noting that the quitting of several members some two months before the polls puts the party in a tight situation, Kekenadze vowed her party to definitely join the election race.
“We consider cooperating with any pro-Western political party, in order to change Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream through elections and to retrieve the chances for rapid development and European future to this country,” Kekenadze said.
Free Democrats are expected to hold an extraordinary party congress in September.