Ruling party, United National Movement (UNM), said top party-list MP candidates and prime ministerial candidates of major political parties should come face to face in live television debates.
The announcement was made few hours after leader of opposition coalition Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, challenged on August 20 President Saakashvili to TV debates. If Saakashvili fails to participate, Ivanishvili told journalists, he would sit down with several representatives of the ruling party in TV debates.
President Saakashvili, who is UNM’s chairman, is actively campaigning for his party ahead of the October 1 parliamentary elections.
“The United National Movement is challenging opponents to TV debates. Our goal is to win in free and fair elections and TV debates between main political players have a special importance in this regard. For that purpose the United National Movement invites prime ministerial candidates and number one candidates in the party-lists of main political parties,” MP Chiora Taktakishvili, UNM’s spokesperson said.
UNM said parliamentary chairman Davit Bakradze would lead its party-list in the October 1 elections and PM Merabishvili would again be named as UNM’s prime ministerial candidate after the elections.
“UNM’s both leaders – Vano Merabishvili and Davit Bakradze – are ready to take part in political debates,” MP Taktakishvili said.
UNM reiterated on August 20 that PM Merabishvili will be the ruling party’s candidate for prime ministerial post after the elections. Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced after coming into politics in October, 2011 that he was eyeing prime ministerial post.
According to the constitution after the October elections, the government and PM will have to resign and President Saakashvili will have to present new cabinet or re-submit the one existing at the time to the newly elected Parliament for confidence vote.
The ruling party remains noncommittal whether it would like to see Merabishvili as its primer ministerial candidate beyond 2013 presidential elections.
Georgia’s new constitution, which will significantly increase PM’s powers at the expanse of presidential authority, will go into force after the presidential elections in late 2013, when Mikheil Saakashvili’s second and final presidential term expires.
When asked during an interview with Maestro TV in July whether he had an ambition of becoming the Georgian leader by staying as PM after this position gains significantly more powers following the 2013 presidential elections, Vano Merabishvili responded: “The Georgian President has instructed me to develop a four-year action plan. This plan is in place and we have already started its implementation.”
“Of course the Georgian people will have the final say; the Georgian people have to decide whether they want to proceed with this action plan or not,” Merabishvili said. “I hope and I am sure that the Georgian people will make a decision, which they have to make, and will support the plan developed by us.”