Ruling Party Cautiously Optimistic over Tbilisi Poll Results
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Apr.'08 / 18:29

Ruling party expects to have better results in Tbilisi in the upcoming parliamentary elections, than it had during the presidential elections three months ago, Mikheil Machavariani, the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, said on April 8.

Tbilisi has gained a status of the opposition stronghold after the January 5 presidential election, when, although winning nationwide, Presidential Saakashvili, came second in Tbilisi with only 32%, with the rest of the votes going to opposition presidential candidates.

Speaking to the Tbilisi-based FM radio station, Ucnobi, Mikheil Machavariani has claimed that the ruling party’s position has already been reinforced in the capital in recent months thanks to the authorities’ policies.

Stakes are high in Tbilisi in the upcoming elections, as there are ten single-mandate constituencies in the capital out of total 75 throughout the country.

competition between various opposition parties in the Tbilisi’s single-mandate constituencies, however, increases the ruling party’s chances to endorse its majoritarian MP candidates in the capital city. For example in the Tbilisi’s Vake district two opposition high-profile figures will be running – MP Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party, part of the nine-party opposition bloc, and MP Levan Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party. The ruling party has yet to nominate its candidate there.

“Having two opposition competitors is better for us,” Mikheil Machavariani acknowledged. “It would be even much better if there are three and more opposition candidates.”

A majoritarian MP candidate winning more than others and more than only 30% of the vote would be declared the outright winner in the first round without the need for a runoff. Under this rule ruling party majoritarian MP candidates are be better positioned if they have to compete with several candidates from various opposition parties or blocs, because the overall opposition vote would be split.

Meanwhile, the ruling party opened its election campaign headquarters on Freedom Square in Tbilisi on April 8. It, however, has yet to name head of its campaign office.

“Our goal is the party and the government to listen to the people and to be close to the people,” Nino Burjanadze, the Parliamentary chairperson, said at the presentation of the campaign headquarters.

Burjanadze, who will lead the ruling party’s list of MP candidates, also said: “Many lessons have been learnt in recent period. And what is the most important we have seen what the people demands from us. Resolving outstanding problems is the most important – tackling unemployment, social protection, overcoming poverty.”

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