The Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday that it has registered 23 out of 54 applicants as candidates for the October 27 presidential election.
This is the largest number of candidates since Georgia held its first presidential election in 1991; five presidential elections have been held since then and the largest number of candidates were standing in January, 2008 election – seven.
Ten out of 23 candidates have been nominated by political parties and others are independent candidates, named by “initiative groups.”
Among the best known candidates are: Giorgi Margvelashvili of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition; MP Davit Bakradze of the opposition United National Movement party; Nino Burjanadze, ex-speaker of parliament and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia party; Shalva Natelashvili, leader of Labor Party; Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement; Koba Davitashvili, a lawmaker who was formerly with GD parliamentary majority group; Zurab Kharatishvili, ex-chairman of CEC; Akaki Asatiani, leader of the Traditionalists party; Nestan Kirtadze, a former Labor Party member.
Others are lesser-known candidates, who have not been active in politics either recently or ever before, including: Teimuraz Mzhavia, former chairman of Tbilisi-based Abkhaz Supreme Council in-exile; Sergo Javakhidze from the party For Fair Georgia; Kartlos Garibashvili, a lawyer who is better known for running in three presidential elections in the past; Avtandil Margiani and Tamaz Bibiluri – the both wanted to run in the previous presidential elections but withdrew from the race; Levan Chachua, who was convicted in connection to a fistfight in Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV studio in 2010 and released earlier this year after being included by the sitting Parliament in the list of “political prisoners”; Mikheil Saluashvili, leader of a “Union for Restoration of Justice – Voice of the Nation: the Lord is Our Truth”; as well as Mamuka Chokhonelidze; Nugzar Avaliani; Giorgi Chikhladze; Teimuraz Bobokhidze; Nino Chanishvili, Giorgi Liluashvili and Mamuka Melikishvili.
According to the law, a registered candidate has the right to withdraw from race before October 17; if a candidate decides to withdraw after this deadline his/her name will still be included in ballot papers.
There were total of 54 applicants seeking registration as presidential candidates; but 24 of them were rejected by the CEC and seven of them withdrew their applications.
According to CEC, 12 persons were rejected because they failed to submit signatures of at least 26,530 citizens before the deadline expired on September 17; two were rejected in registration because of shortcomings in their lists of citizens’ signatures and they failed to address those shortcomings before the deadline expired; one fell short of required number of citizens’ signatures; seven would-be candidates withdrew their applications; three presented incomplete documents; one was rejected in registration because of not having Georgian citizenship and five others, including former foreign minister, Salome Zourabichvili, were rejected on the grounds of having dual citizenship.
Second round of election will be required if no candidate receives more than half of the votes cast.