Who’s Who on Georgian Dream’s Electoral Lineup?

Ruling party's top 20 MP hopefuls

The governing Georgian Dream party presented on September 10 top twenty MP candidates of its party list, who will be contesting in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

So, what do you need to know about the Georgian Dream’s top party-list contenders? had a closer look into their records:

  1. Giorgi Gakharia, 45, incumbent PM. A Moscow’s Lomonosov University graduate, Gakharia has years-long international experience in the private sector, having served as a Business Development Director for Eastern Europe/Russia/CIS in Lufthansa Service Holding before joining the Government of Georgia as a Business Ombudsman in 2013. Despite pushing some rights reforms during his tenure as Interior Minister in 2017-19, Gakharia became a highly polarizing figure in Georgian politics following a violent dispersal of 20 June, 2019 protests, injuring many and leaving two half-blind. Following week-long protests demanding his resignation, Gakharia was controversially elevated as Prime Minister, where he was partially able to recover his reputation thanks to the laudable COVID-19 management in Georgia under his leadership.
  2. Archil Talakvadze, Chairman of the Parliament. With working experience in USAID and Ombudsman’s office in 2006-2012, Talakvadze entered the GD government by taking up a position as a Deputy Minister of Corrections in 2012-2014, and then as a Deputy Minister of Interior in 2014-16. Talakvadze joined the Parliament as a GD Majoritarian MP representing Ozurgeti constituency, in western Guria region in 2016, and ascended to a position as a Parliamentary Speaker following the ousting of Irakli Kobakhidze after the June 20 events.
  3. Irakli Kobakhidze, Talakvadze’s predecessor in 2016-19, has a firm academic background with a Ph.D. in Düsseldorf, Germany, as he loves to highlight. The son of Giorgi (Gia) Kobakhidze, a long-serving Deputy Parliament Speaker in the 1990s, Irakli Kobakhidze was a founding member of the GD in 2012. He started raising in party ranks in 2015 as a party secretary and was appointed as a Parliamentary Head before Gavrilov’s controversy ended his tenure. Kobakhidze, however, managed a partial comeback and returned to spotlight, currently serving as campaign head of the GD.
  4. Tea Tsulukiani, a surprisingly long-serving Justice Minister of Georgia since 2012, who prided herself with her Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) diploma, first entered Parliament in 2012 as a Majoriatian MP in Nadzaladevi Constituency, Tbilisi. Tsulukiani’s long service years survived a number of controversies, including backlash on her xenophobic and transphobic statements, as well as outcry over publicly releasing video footage depicting a meeting between inmates and representatives of the Public Defender, subsequently fined by the State Inspector’s Service of Georgia for violating Law on Personal Data Protection.
  5. Mamuka Mdinaradze – a lawyer by training, Mdinaradze has been pursuing a private law career before joining the GD team in 2016 as a Majoritarian candidate in Saburtalo Constituency, eventually becoming Leader of the Parliamentary Majority and Vice-Speaker in November 2019 after quitting the parliamentary majority by several MPs after Georgian Dream’s downvoting of the constitutional amendments to transfer electoral system to fully proportional representation. Earlier, during his service as an investigator in Vake-Saburtalo Department in 2001-04, he was reportedly shortly detained in 2004 for “malfeasance in office” charges under UNM rule.
  6. Kakha Kuchava, 41, a corporate lawyer with earlier positions as director-general of companies such as “Caucasus Minerals” and „Georgian Copper and Gold“ (2012-2016) before joining the Parliament through a GD proportional list in 2016. Kuchava was also promoted as a Vice-speaker following the November 2019 split of the GD majority.
  7. Giorgi Kakhiani, 46, joined the Parliament as Samtredia GD Majoritarian in 2013 and again by a proportional list in 2016. Doctor’s degree holder in law, his professional background includes an academic career at Tbilisi State University as an Associate Professor. He also worked as a senior counselor in the Constitutional Court in 2005-2007. Similarly, as Kuchava and Mdinaradze, he achieved the position as a vice-speaker following November 2019 reshuffling.
  8. Mariam Kvrivishvili, 30, has been appointed as a Head of Tourist Administration in February 2019, under then Economy Minister Giorgi Kobulia, after serving as a Senior Counsellor of Economy Minister before. She held the position of Deputy Head of Tourist Administration in 2012-2014, however, moved to the travel industry, serving as Director-General of tourist company “Voyager” since 2014 and simultaneously as regional manager of FlyDubay flight company in Georgia. In 2016, Kvrivishvili donated over GEL 63,000 (USD 20,300) to the “Unity for Happy Georgia” party, belonging to Leonid Chernovetskyi, former Mayor of Kyiv who decided to run in Georgian parliamentary elections in 2016.
  9. Mikheil Sarjveladze, 41, also long-serving first Deputy of Justice Minister Tsulukiani, has been pursuing a private lawyer career until his appointment as a Head of the National Bureau of Enforcement in 2013. However, soon afterward, in the same year, Sarjveladze took up his position as a Deputy Justice Minister where he’s been working until now.
  10. Maia Bitadze, 43, Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi under Kakha Kaladze administration since 2017, brings a diverse professional experience in government structures, international organizations, and academy, with a particular focus on environmental issues. She has worked at various positions in the Ministry of Environment since as early as 1998, taking up managing roles since 2011, including her office as a Deputy Minister prior to moving to Tbilisi City Hall. Bitadze has also been holding academic positions in several Tbilisi-based universities and worked with intl. organizations including OSCE, UNDP, World Bank, mainly as a legal expert in environmental projects.
  11. Mikheil Daushvili, 30, has been appointed as business ombudsman by Giorgi Gakharia in November 2019, after serving at various positions in the Ministry of Interior, including as a Head of Information Analytical Department, and Deputy Head of Administration of the MIA, including parallel to Gakharia’s office as Interior Minister.
  12. Giorgi Amilakhvari, 36, Rector of Tbilisi Open University, a private high education institution in Georgia, has been holding academic positions in several Georgian universities, as well as managing partner positions in Georgian companies.
  13. Viktor Sanikidze, 34, a Georgian basketball player who has played in European clubs as well as the Georgian National Team for years, until retiring a couple of years ago and taking up a position as a sports director at Aris Thessaloniki, a Greek basketball club.
  14. Maka Bochorishvili, 42, diplomat, has been serving as a Deputy Ambassador to Brussels until now, preceded by a position as a Deputy Head of the Georgian Embassy in Vienna/permanent representation in OSCE.
  15. Shalva Papuashvili, yet another academic on the GD party list, currently holds a position as Associate Professor at Ilia State University, specializing in private law. Also educated in Germany (LL.M., Dr. iur.), Papuashvili has working experience in private companies and international organizations.
  16. Davit Kacharava, 35, is another athlete on the list and a much-admired Rugby center player having completed more than 100 games in the National Rugby Team of Georgia. To a big disappointment to his Georgian fans, Kacharava announced his retirement from active sports on September 9, just a day before his GD bid was unveiled.
  17. Nikoloz Samkharadze, yet another German degree holder, he obtained his MA in European Studies from Hannover, Germany in 2003 and Ph.D. in International Relations from Tbilisi State University in 2016, where he gave lectures in, among others, German and EU politics and conflict studies. In 2017, Samkharadze was appointed as Head of the Office of Parliamentary Speaker (Irakli Kobakhidze). His earlier career includes longstanding professional working experience with the UNDP and EU Special Representative’s Office in Southern Caucasus. In the mid-90s, Samkharadze spent his high school year in South Carolina, U.S.
  18. Giorgi Khelashvili, Oxford-educated IR specialist, Twitter-aficionado, had also joined Kobakhidze’s office as a counselor of the Head of Parliament of Georgia, after leaving his diplomatic career as a Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Georgia in the U.S. in 2013-2016. Earlier, Khelashvili held managing and academic positions in the Center for Social Sciences (CSS) and IR Department of Tbilisi State University. He is also rumored of having contributed to one of the first major splits in the post-revolutionary government-building back in 2004, after Saakashvili’s National Movement denied then-Speaker Nino Burjanadze putting Khelashvili on the electoral party list, reportedly due to a failure on Khelashvili’s part to internalize the principles held by President Saakashvili and the UNM party.
  19. Mariam Lashkhi, 32, has been appointed in 2019 as a Deputy Chairperson of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), where she’s been serving as Head of the International Relations Department since 2014. Before joining GITA, she was working at the World Bank in the private sector development direction. Currently, Lashkhi is also giving lectures at Business and Technology University (BTU) in Tbilisi.
  20. Beka Davituliani, 40, Member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo (city assembly) since 2017, has held multiple positions in government structures, including as a Head of Department in Government’s Administration in 2015-2017 and as an aide of Parliamentary Chairman in 2014-2015. Davituliani has also worked as a deputy producer of 2030 show at GDS TV (Georgian Dream Studio), owned by the family of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the ruling party’s chairman and main benefactor.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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