We Are Not China! Pre-Election Recruiting and Returns


Georgian politics has already switched to pre-election mode. The first versions of elections have been announced by the Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM), from which we will need to choose in autumn. The governmental party plans on renewing its members at the expense of the host and the players of the popular show ‘What? Where? When?’ while the UNM is placing its bets on the economic experts and lawyers experienced in TV debates. Although officially the management of both parties denies the existence of such lists, as they say “there’s no smoke without fire.”

The Georgian media had reason to spread such information after the parties and non-governmental organizations mistakenly received a list of fifteen GD majoritarans, together with an excel file showing the borders of the new election districts from the governmental party’s headquarters. This is when it became known that the government planned on renewing its list with popular talk show people. Unlike that of GD, the UNM’s renewed party lists were announced by the Governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili, the third president of Georgia, who said in an interview that the election list of the former governmental party would by all means be renewed. Following this interview, media spread news that Mikheil Saakashvili’s wife, Sandra Roelofs, would be running as a majoritarian MP in Zugdidi, Western Georgia and that the two former Presidents of the National Bank, Giorgi Kadagidze and Roman Gotsiridze, were among the first twenty people on the list, together with former Public Defender, Giorgi Tugushi, and lawyers Otar Kakhidze and Zaza Bibilashvili, who showed themselves during the sensational trials of Vano Merabishvili and Rustavi 2. Economic expert Giorgi Bedineishvili and political expert Elene Khoshtaria also top the list, alongside popular pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and former Foreign Affairs minister Eka Tkeshelashvili.

The main impromptu about the election lists was stated by the governmental party, and it turns out ex-premier Garibashvili plans on returning to the big game. It seems that his three month political vacation has come to an end and it is highly likely that he will rejoin Georgian Dream, not as a regular member, but in the role of a leader. The fact that the former prime minister posted this information on his Facebook page should be enough to lead to speculation that this will be the case. This is quite an unexpected political move. In light of this, the role of the active Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili becomes ambiguous; who will he become? If Garibashvili returns as a leader of the Georgian Dream then it will mean that the first person of the country, according to the Constitution, will be two unofficial controlling people – ex-premier Garibashvili from the party, as Kvirikashvili is a member of GD, and ex-premier Bidzina Ivanishvili, from the government.

Maybe the governmental party really thinks that the return of Garibashvili will give a “second breath” to GD, but it can be said with confidence that it is their political opponents who will get the real “second breath” in such a case. Even if this renewal is received positively by the people, overall, in the election year it will raise doubts about the bureaucracy and the stability of the government in general. The “suspected bureaucracy” will no longer be a useful lever for the ruling party during elections. Our country is not China. Therefore, while we can still somehow imagine a “Georgian Stalin”, a “Georgian Deng Xiaoping” or even both, is impossible!

Zaza Jgarkava

24 March 2016 20:45