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Parties and Election Blocs
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 May.'08 / 17:34

Three election blocs and nine parties are running in the May 21 parliamentary elections. Below is brief information about parties and blocs. Total of 75 seats will be distributed among parties that will clear 5% threshold through party-list, proportional system.

National Movement Party

President Saakashvili’s party is running in the elections under the slogan Deeds Instead of Words. After Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze’s surprise decision to pull out from the race over disagreement on party list on April 21, Former Minister Davit Bakradze was named as number one in the party list of MP candidates. He then had to resign from the minister’s position and engage in an active campaign trail. The ruling party list includes only about dozen of sitting lawmakers and three former members of the current cabinet. The ruling party runs the campaign mainly based on Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidential campaign slogans, including Unified Georgia Without Poverty. The ruling party enjoys with an advantage of administrative resources, which often becomes a reason of opponents’ criticism.

The ruling National Movement party is the only one, which nominated its majoritarian MP candidates in all 75 single-mandate constituencies.

Nine-Party Opposition Bloc

The nine-party opposition coalition is running in the May 21 parliamentary elections on the joint ticket under the name, “United Opposition–National Council–New Rights.”

The bloc unites following parties:

New Rights Party – leader MP Davit Gamkrelidze;
Conservative Party – leaders MP Kakha Kukava, MP Zviad Dzidziguri;
Georgia’s Way – leader Salome Zourabichvili, ex-foreign minister;
Freedom – Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, son of Georgia’s late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia;
On Our Own – leader Paata Davitaia (party mainly focusing on the Abkhaz issues and targeting displaced persons);
Party of People – leader Koba Davitashvili;
Movement for United Georgia – party was formed by ex-defense minister, Irakli Okruashvili;
Georgian Troupe – leader Jondi Bagaturia;
National Forum – leader Kakha Shartava
The bloc also involves four individual members, including its leader MP Levan Gachechiladze, as well as Giorgi Khaindrava, ex-state minister; MP Gia Tortladze and MP Gia Tsagareishvili.

History

The opposition coalition - United Public Movement - was set up in October, 2007 shortly after the arrest of ex-defense minister, Irakli Okruashvili and initially united ten opposition parties. The New Rights Party was not part of the coalition. The Republican Party and Labor Party were in the coalition at that time.

The Labor Party, however, quit the coalition ahead of the January 5 presidential election and the coalition turned into a nine-party bloc, which was backing its leader MP Gachechiladze in the presidential election.

The Republicans quit the coalition in late February, citing that by running independently the Republicans would maximize the overall opposition vote by targeting mainly moderate and undecided voters.

During the March protests involving hunger strike the New Rights Party intensified cooperation by then eight-party coalition, which eventually turned into the party joining the bloc.

The nine-party bloc has not nominated its majoritarian MP candidates in only two single-mandate constituencies – Aspindza and Akhaltsikhe – out of total 75.
 
Republican Party

The Republican Party, which celebrates 30th anniversary this year, quit the opposition coalition in late February saying that by running independently the Republicans were trying to maximize the overall opposition vote by targeting mainly moderate and undecided voters. The Republican Party, with moderate credentials, is traditionally popular mainly among intellectuals and middle-class voters. The party advocates parliamentary system and its leaders say Europe should be Georgia’s “major foreign policy vector.” The party has also vowed to increase funding of education system to 5% of the country’s GDP and to increase pensions and social allowances to minimal subsistence level, which, according to the department of statistics was GEL 128 per month for a working man; GEL 114 for an average consumer and over GEL 215 for an average family.
 
Labor Party

Labor Party, led by flamboyant veteran opposition politician Shalva Natelashvili, claims to be “the only genuine opposition party” and has been frequently attacking other opposition parties during this election campaign. Natelashvili runs as a majoritarian MP candidate in his native Dusheti single-mandate constituency and has a real chance to win there. In the January 5 presidential elections, although garnering 6.5% of votes countrywide, particularly in Dusheti Natelashvili received 46.5%, more then any other candidate including Mikheil Saakashvili.

Labor Party has nominated its majoritarian MP candidates in 72 out of total 75 single-mandate constituencies. The party has no candidates in Mestia, Marneuli and Gardabani.
 
Christian-Democratic Party

The party was set up in February by Giorgi Targamadze, ex anchor and head of political programs of the Imedi TV station. It was a political comeback for Targamadze. He chaired the parliamentary faction of ex-Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze’s Revival Union party until March 2003, when he resigned from Parliament and politics altogether.

The party, which has at least four former Imedi TV journalists in its governing body, is running an active campaign under the platform of “protecting the Georgian Orthodox Christianity” which, party says, “remains basis of the way of life for the Georgian society.”

For this purpose, the party says, it will initiate in case of success in the parliamentary elections, amendment to the constitution envisaging declaring the Orthodox Christianity “official religion” in Georgia. The party claims that the status will not contradict the principle of separation of the church and the state, but it will be more than the current status of the Georgian Orthodox Church, envisaged by the 2002 concordat between the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Even in its economic platform, the Christian-Democratic Party decided to use one of the sermons of Ilia II, the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, in which he says: “Georgia’s future economic development should probably be linked to water resources.”

“Water is our most precious national wealth, return of which is the Christian-Democratic movement’s major goal,” the party declares on its website.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, although the party’s website says that it supports Georgia’s membership to Euro-Atlantic organizations, Giorgi Targamadze has said for several times in his media interviews that NATO-membership should not be Georgia’s “goal in itself.”

Christian-Democratic Party has majoritarian MP candidates in 35 single-mandate constituencies out of total 75.
 
Rightist Alliance–Topadze-Industrialists

The election bloc unites three parties Industry Will Save Georgia, National-Democratic Party (NDP) and Ertoba (Unity).

Industry Will Save Georgia (Industrialists) party, which had representation in the outgoing parliament, is founded by beer magnate, Gogi Topadze. Topadze kept a low political profile in recent few years and the party was usually represented by MP Zurab Tkemaladze.

National-Democratic Party (NDP) was an influential political group in early and mid-90s, but it has lost its role of key opposition party since late 90s.

Ertoba (Unity) party is led by MP Jumber Patiashvili, who was a Communist leader of Soviet Georgia in late 80s.

Rightist Alliance–Topadze-Industrialists has nominated its majoritarian MP candidates in 28 single-mandate constituencies out total 75. One of them – Teimuraz Shalikiani in Kutaisi, however, pulled out from the race on May 5 citing alleged intimidation of his campaign activists by the local authorities.
 
Traditionalists-Our Georgia-Party of Women

The election bloc unites three parties Traditionalist, Our Georgia and Women’s Party.

Traditionalist Party is led by Akaki Asatiani, a veteran Georgian politician who kept a low profile in recent years.

Our Georgia Party was set up by MP Gocha Jojua in March. The party mainly unites those who were part of the late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s presidential campaign ahead of the January 5 elections.

Party of Women was set up in March, 2008 by MP Guguli Magradze. She was a lawmaker from the ruling party in the outgoing parliament, but quit the parliamentary majority after the November events.

The election bloc Traditionalists-Our Georgia-Women’s Party nominated majoritarian MP candidates in 32 single-mandate constituencies out of total 75.

Christian-Democratic Alliance

The group is in fact a bloc, uniting several parties and political figures, but has been registered in the Central Election Commission as a political party.

The group, among others, unites former presidential candidate Giorgi Maisashvili and his party, as well as Temur Shashiashvili, who was a governor of Imereti region during Eduard Shevardnadze’s presidency.

Christian-Democratic Alliance has nominated its majoritarian MP candidates in 42 single-mandate constituencies out of total of 75.
 
Georgian Politics

The party was set up in March, 2008 by a lawmaker in the outgoing parliament, Gocha Pipia, an entrepreneur who was general director of the vodka producing company, Ushba.

The party’s website says that the Georgian Politics is a group based “the Georgian spirit and the Orthodox [Christianity] way of life.” It also says that the Georgian Politics aims at creating “socio-economic relations, which are based on the ideology of the Orthodox [Christianity].”

Gocha Pipia, the leader of the party, says that he is against of Georgia’s NATO integration.

The Georgian Politics has nominated majoritarian MP candidates in 12 single-mandate constituencies out of total 72.

Our Country

It is a small political group, which came into public attention only ahead of the May 21 parliamentary elections.

National Party of Radical-Democrats of Georgia

It is a small political group, which came into public attention only ahead of the May 21 parliamentary elections.

Union of Georgian Sportsmen

It is a small political group, which came into public attention only ahead of the May 21 parliamentary elections.

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