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Georgian Dream Snubs Planned TV Debates on Public Broadcaster
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 Aug.'12 / 06:47

Format under which the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) will host TV debates ahead of the October 1 parliamentary elections is “falsehood” and the Georgian Dream will not be part of it, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the major opposition coalition said on August 30.

GPB has invited ruling United National Movement (UNM) party; Georgian Dream; Christian-Democratic Movement and Labor Party for two rounds of debates on September 9 and September 18.

The plan is to hold first debates on September 9 between prime ministerial candidates of these four political groups and second round of debates on September 18 between their top MP candidates on the party list.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is the Georgian Dream’s prime ministerial candidate, reiterated his position about TV debates at a news conference on August 30 and said that his coalition would not participate in debates with “pseudo-opposition” parties, referring to CDM and Labor Party.
 
“The format of debates offered by the public broadcaster is falsehood and we will not be part of that,” Ivanishvili told journalists. “Of course it’s false when CDM is represented as an opposition party; [CDM] is Saakashvili’s tail; it’s an extension of the National Movement; the same is Labor Party, as well as the New Rights party.”

He reiterated that he wanted one-on-one televised debates with President Saakashvili, who is also the ruling UNM party’s chairman; as an alternative he also offered to come face to face with PM Vano Merabishvili together with several other leading ruling party and government figures.

Ruling party said Merabishvili, whom UNM plans to nominate as its prime ministerial candidate after the elections, would participate in public broadcaster’s planned debates.

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. Prime Minister’s powers will remain the same after the parliamentary elections; PM’s authority will only increase significantly, becoming the country’s leader, when the new constitution goes into effect after the presidential elections in late 2013. Party, which wins more votes than others in the October 1 parliamentary elections, will have the right to name prime ministerial candidate after the new constitution goes into force in late 2013.

Four political groups invited by the GPB to take part in the debates fall under the category of ‘qualified parties’ as defined by the election code. GPB asked the parties to respond in a written form whether they would participate or not in the debates no later than September 4. 

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