Ruling party, United National Movement (UNM), named on Monday its majoritarian MP candidates who will be running in Tbilisi’s ten single-mandate constituencies in October 1 parliamentary elections.
UNM’s four out of ten majoritarian candidates for Tbilisi are from the executive government, four are sitting lawmakers and two are members of the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo).
Vice-Speaker of Parliament and general secretary of UNM, Mikheil Machavariani, will run in Samgori, which is country’s one of the largest single-mandate constituencies by number of voters. Machavariani spent fourteen years of his 17-year political career as a lawmaker; he was minister of tax incomes in 1999-2001.
Machavariani’s rival in the Samgori constituency from Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition will be Zurab Abashidze of Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, who is a member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo.
Former healthcare minister Andria (Sandro) Urushadze will run in Saburtalo single-mandate constituency. After serving as healthcare minister for year and a half, he was appointed as deputy Tbilisi mayor in March, 2012. The Georgian Dream named Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party, as its majoritarian MP candidate in Saburtalo.
Former deputy chief prosecutor, Davit Sakvarelidze, who resigned in June to engage in election campaign, will run in Krtsanisi single-mandate constituency. His rival from the Georgian Dream coalition will be Shota Khabareli, 1980 Olympic champion in judo.
UNM named Deputy Justice Minister Giorgi Vashadze as its candidate in the Isani single-mandate constituency. In his capacity of Deputy Justice Minister Vashadze has been overseeing development of Public Service Halls – one-stop shops where citizen can get multiple services from various state agencies under the single roof, which has turned into one of the staples of the authorities’ modernization and reform agenda. Georgian Dream coalition named as its majoritarian MP candidate in Isani Nukri Kantaria, co-founder of Georgian Academy, a group uniting opposition-minded actors, academics and some intelligentsia figures.
Deputy Economy Minister, Giorgi Karbelashvili, will be ruling party’s candidate in Vake single-mandate constituency. Karbelashvili has received a lot of praise from President Saakashvili recently, including for his reported role in release of fifteen Georgian sailors from 16-month long Somali pirates’ captivity earlier this year. His rival in Vake from Georgian Dream coalition will be a lawyer Shalva Shavgulidze of Our Georgia-Free Democrats party.
A long-time parliament member Merab Samadashvili will again run as ruling party’s candidate in Nadzaladevi single-mandate constituency. Samadashvili is an MP from Nadzaladevi since 1999 – first as a candidate from then-ruling Citizens Union party and after that as UNM member. His rival in Nadzaladevi from the Georgian Dream is Tea Tsulukiani, deputy chairperson of Our Georgia-Free Democrats party.
Andro Alavidze, who is now ruling party majoritarian MP from Chugureti single-mandate constituency since 2010 by-election, will again run in the same constituency. Victor Dolidze of Our Georgia-Free Democrats and a member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo will be competing for the same seat from the Georgian Dream coalition.
Member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo Giorgi Chachanidze will be ruling party’s candidate in Didube single-mandate constituency. He became Sakrebulo member after winning over 54% of votes in Didube during 2010 local elections (during local elections Didube constituency was divided into two parts). His rival in Didube from Georgia Dream is a Republican Party member Vakhtang Khmaladze.
Also a Tbilisi Sakrebulo member, Nikoloz Khachirashvili, will be ruling party’s candidate in Gldani, one of the largest constituencies in the country by number of voters. Before becoming Sakrebulo member after winning over 60.4% of votes in Gldani during 2010 local elections (when Gldani was divided into two separate constituencies), Khachirashvili served as deputy Tbilisi mayor. An actor and director Soso Jachvliani was named by Georgian Dream as its majoritarian MP candidate in Gldani single-mandate constituency.
A sitting majoritarian lawmaker from Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency, Archil Gegenava, will run in the same district. In 2008 elections, Gegenava won over 51.3% of votes in Mtatsminda. An actor Zaza Papuashvili was named as its candidate in the Mtatsminda constituency by Georgian Dream.
Those candidates who hold posts in executive branch of the government should resign by September 3.
Candidates were named by Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze.
“Is Georgia better country than it was eight years ago? Is Tbilisi a better city than it was eight years ago? Is the life of our citizens better now, regardless of remaining problems, than it was eight years ago? Big majority of our population has a positive answer on this question,” said Ugulava, who will be in charge of the ruling party’s campaigning in the capital city.
He said that number of those having positive answer on these questions was exceeding number of those supporting the ruling party.
“It means that our citizens do not want to go back into the past; our citizens do not want to dream about the past,” Ugulava said alluding to the authorities’ one of the major lines of attack against the Georgian Dream and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, claiming that coming into power of this opposition coalition will result into derailing Georgia from its reform path and throwing the country back into the past.
“Our citizens will not allow destruction of what has already been built; it means that our people understand very well those threats and challenges our country is facing and that they will never give up freedom,” Ugulava said, adding that it was UNM’s “creed” not to allow return back into the past and destruction of what has already been built.
Georgia has a mixed system in which 73 lawmakers out of 150 will be elected in 73 single-mandate constituencies and rest 77 seats will be allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties and election blocs, which will clear 5% threshold.
Under this system, wherein a majoritarian MP is elected through winner-takes-all rule (but a candidate should garner over 30% of votes), the ruling party endorsed its candidates in 71 out of 75 single-mandate constituencies, which existed during the 2008 parliamentary elections. At the time opposition candidates won the race in the Tbilisi’s two constituencies (Vake and Didube – both won by the New Rights Party candidates), as well as in Tsageri (where the ruling party had no candidate) and Kazbegi constituencies.
In 2008 Tbilisi majoritarian contest ruling party candidates managed to garner more than half of the votes in four (Samgori, Isani, Krtsanisi and Mtatsminda) out of ten single-mandate constituencies.