The ruling Georgian Dream party presented today incumbent Kakha Kaladze as a candidate for the Tbilisi mayoral race of October 2021.
At the presentation, held in the Mtatsminda Park overlooking the capital city, Georgian Dream leaders, ministers and lawmakers were met with protesting journalists, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili over the death of cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava and the punishment of perpetrators.
Kaladze began his re-nomination speech by addressing journalists, noting that “violence and hate kills the country, its future, and every person that beat you, did not spare you, committed violence, damaged the development of the country… This is a punishable action and this is shameful.”
But, claimed the Mayor, “no less evil is a psychological violence that has been taking place all these years in our society.” “We often hear from various TV broadcasting hulimiation, defamation, and bullying against people just because of different political or other signs.” Kaladze said a common desire for all shall be to “defeat hate and enmity against one another.”
Speaking of his achievements as the Mayor, Kaladze praised his tenure for undertaking “painful, non-populist, but far-sighted reforms” that put an end “almost 30-year-long chaos” in Tbilisi’s development. He also credited his current mayoral term over bringing new infrastructure standards, building new parks and kindergartens, and upgrading public transport, among others.
Discussing the plans for the capital, Kaladze vowed to “bring life into every district [of the city],” and added that while the “renewal has already begun, now the outcome of our everyday work will become more volumetric, and more tangible for each Tbilisite [to feel].” The Mayor also said his task will be to make “every district of Tbilisi greener, more beautiful and full of life.”
The incumbent Mayor of Tbilisi, that is home to around 1.2 million inhabitants, is one of the most favorably viewed public figures in Georgia, and the most liked Georgian Dream leader, according to the latest IRI-commissioned public opinion poll of April.
In the study, Kaladze came in as the third with 54%, following Orthodox Patriarch Ilia ll (89%) and Giorgi Gakharia (65%), who resigned as Georgian Dream Prime Minister in February.
The upcoming local polls are set to be hotly contested, as it will decide the fate of snap parliamentary elections, long demanded by the major opposition parties. EU-brokered April 19 Agreement envisages early general election to be called in 2022 if GD receives less than 43% of the valid proportional votes in October.
Kaladze was elected as Mayor in 2017 after garnering 51.3% of the vote, securing the win without runoff elections. He was followed by then-independent Aleko Elisashvili, currently MP of the Citizens party, with 17.49% of votes, and the United National Movement’s Zaal Udumashvili with 16.53% of votes.
Before the initial run for Mayorship in 2017, Kaladze had served as the Energy Minister (now-absolved) since 2012. He joined the then-opposition GD party in 2011 and led their proportional list in the 2012 general vote, as well as ran for a majoritarian seat in his hometown Samtredia constituency. He was shortly tapped as the Minister after being elected to the legislature.
Before his career in politics, Kaladze was a footballer, winning UEFA Champions League with AC Milan twice. He was the captain of Georgia’s national football team, where he played in 1996-2011.
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