Nika Melia, the runner-up from the United National Movement in the October 30 Tbilisi mayoral runoff, unveiled a shadow cabinet in cooperation with five opposition parties, Lelo, Girchi – More Freedom, Droa, European Georgia and United Georgia – Democratic Movement.
The UNM leader proposed Mamuka Khazaradze of Lelo, Zurab Japaridze of Girchi More Freedom, Elene Khoshtaria of Droa and Irakli Abesadze as Deputy Mayors of Tbilisi. He also named members of the five groups, as well as people without party affiliations to key City Hall positions.
Melia received 163,489 votes (34.01%) in the first round elections, coming second to Georgian Dream’s Kakha Kaladze, incumbent Mayor running for reelection, who received 216,344 votes (45.06%). If Melia clinches victory in the runoff, his proposed cabinet and heads of municipal departments would have to be approved by City Council, where GD has already secured a majority with 28 seats.
“It is a special day today,” the UNM mayoral hopeful said during the presentation, stressing that it is “for the first time in history” that a coalition cabinet is being presented to Tbilisi residents prior to elections.
“Political diversity is the best mechanism for solving problems, big or small,” he added, going on to argue the coalition could exercise mutual control and balance each other “to reach the best decisions.”
This was lacking in previous mayoral cabinets, according to Melia, leading to “party interests prevailing over the public ones.” The UNM leader vowed to leave his position as the party’s chair if victorious in the runoffs.
“I do not think it’s right to be an elected mayor of the city of 1.5 million people, presiding over a cabinet meeting during one part of the day, then chairing a party meeting the other part of the day,” the opposition leader said.
Mamuka Khazaradze of Lelo, in his introduction speech, said coalition governance is the sole solution for the country “in crisis.” He acknowledged that while the members of the coalition may not be in agreement on many issues, they all know how to get the country and the city out of the crisis.
He also stressed the need to overcome “prevailing corruption and nepotism bringing the country to a standstill.” The Lelo chair said his party would contribute the Tbilisi Marshal Plan – their initial mayoral election program – to the coalition.
Zurab Japaridze, leader of the right-libertarian Girchi – More freedom in his address advocated for low taxes, reducing government borrowing and small bureaucracy.
Droa party’s Elene Khoshtaria stressed the need for “national consensus,” without which no plans will be carried out. She also reassured civil servants working in the City Hall they would retain their posts in case of an opposition victory.
The country and the city cannot be developed without people conceding to co-exist with those of different opinions, Khoshtaria argued. She said what the country needs the most is for all, including the coalition members, to respect each other’s differences.
Below you can see the coalition’s proposed candidates for key municipal positions.
For the heads of City Hall Administration, Municipal Departments, and City Hall-funded agencies, the UNM mayoral hopeful proposed:
- City Hall Administration – Davit Lagvilava – UNM;
- Healthcare and Social Services Department – Soso Japaridze – UNM;
- Culture, Education, Sport and Youth Affairs Department – Medea Metreveli – Lelo;
- Internal Audit/Anti-corruption Department – Giorgi Noniashvili – European Georgia;
- Procurement Department – Mamuka Achba – United Georgia;
- Municipal Inspection – Dimitri Bidzinashvili;
- Legal Department – Giga Lemonjava – Droa;
- Architecture Department – Ana Bibilashvili – Lelo party’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate in first rounds;
- Tbilisi Transport Agency – Vaso Urushadze;
- Tbilisi Development Fund – Nika Vacheishvili;
- Tbilservice Group – Beso Gazdeliani.
For the posts of Tbilisi District Heads, Melia named:
- Gldani – Tengo Giorgadze – UNM;
- Nadzaladevi – Leri Demetrashvili;
- Didube – Davit Napetvaridze;
- Chugureti – Kakha Zghenti – Lelo;
- Vake – Saba Buadze – Lelo;
- Saburtalo – Otar Tavartkiladze – United Georgia;
- Isani – Lana Galdava – Lelo;
- Samgori – Guliko Zumbadze;
- Krtsanisi – Romeo Parulava;
- Mtatsminda – Tamaz Datunasvhili – Lelo.
This article was updated.