A principle based on which Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) plans to host debates between some of the presidential candidates excludes ex-parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze to face Georgian Dream’s Giorgi Margvelashvili and UNM’s Davit Bakradze in the debates.
Eight out of 23 presidential candidates have been invited by GPB to take part in the TV debates scheduled this week.
Seven of them are candidates nominated by ‘qualified political parties’ – those, which, as defined by the election code, have won at least 3% of the vote by running either separately or in bloc with other parties in the most recent parliamentary elections or local elections; and the remaining one is Nino Burjanadze, who was invited based on recent public opinion polls showing that she has relatively high rating than many ‘qualified’ candidates, but lower than those named by UNM and GD. Burjanadze’s United Georgia-Democratic Movement party does not fall in the category of ‘qualified’ because it did not participate in the past elections.
Invited eight candidates were divided into two groups with the first one consisting of those four candidates, who have been nominated by the parties, which had the best results in the October 2012 parliamentary elections, according to GPB.
These four candidates, according to GPB’s proposal, will face each other in the debates on October 17 and the second group of four candidates will be debating separately next day.
The first pool of candidates includes: Giorgi Margvelashvili of GD; Davit Bakradze of UNM; Giorgi Targamadze of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and Zurab Kharatishvili, a former chairman of Central Election Commission, who went into politics two months ago.
Kharatishvili was invited in this first pool because he was nominated by the European Democrats of Georgia, a small party which ran in the October 2012 parliamentary elections in a bloc with CDM; the bloc garnered slightly over 2% of votes in last year’s elections.
The second group of candidates, whose debates are scheduled separately on October 18, includes: Nino Burjanadze; Koba Davitashvili of People’s Party; Sergo Javakhidze of Movement for Fair Georgia and Teimuraz Mzhavia, nominated by the Christian Democratic People’s Party.
Such an arrangement is likely to cause disapproval by Burjanadze, who has been repeatedly calling on GD’s candidate Margvelashvili to face her in live televised debates. A host of one of the Maestro TV’s talk shows said on October 10 that Margvelashvili’s campaign team declined an offer to debate with Burjanadze.
“It will be regrettable if Giorgi Margvelashvili will sit down in debates arranged based on criteria through which it is being attempted to artificially impose certain candidates on the public. I repeat once again, let’s go into debates and deliver our platforms to the public and the people will then decide whom to support. I know for sure I will win such debates and the elections as well; government representatives know that and that’s why they want neither debates nor free elections,” Burjanadze said in the town of Khashuri, where she was campaigning on October 14.
Debates, facilitated by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), were also hosted by GPB ahead of the local elections in 2010 and parliamentary elections in 2012.