United National Movement (UNM) opposition party presented on Monday top MP candidates in its party list, who will be contesting in a proportional system in the October 8 parliamentary elections.
The top ten of the list, which includes only two incumbent UNM lawmakers, as well as ex-chief of central bank, former public defender, and former public servants and diplomats, represents “what the country needs – renewal, new energy,” one of UNM’s leaders, MP Davit Bakradze, who leads the list, said at a presentation of the candidates during an outdoor event in the old part of Tbilisi on May 16.
77 seats in 150-member Parliament are allocated under the proportional, party-list system among those parties and election blocs, which clear 5% threshold, and remaining 73 seats go to majoritarian MPs elected in single-mandate constituencies.
Candidates ranked higher on their respective party’s list of MP candidates have more chances of getting seat in the legislative body if that party or an election bloc clears 5% threshold in nationwide vote.
Like in 2012 elections, the list is again topped by MP Davit Bakradze, leader of the UNM minority group in the parliament, who was party’s presidential candidate in 2013 elections garnering up to 22% of votes.
The only other incumbent lawmaker in the top ten candidates is MP Sergo Ratiani, UNM’s executive secretary, who is ranked tenth in the list.
Bakradze is followed by Helen Khoshtaria, co-founder and chairperson of board of Tbilisi-based think-tank Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS), who was deputy state minister of European and Euro-Atlantic integration when the UNM was in government.
Sergi Kapanadze is another co-founder of the GRASS, who was included in UNM’s party list, ranked on the ninth place. He was Deputy Foreign Minister from early 2009 till October, 2012.
Roman Gotsiridze, who was the President of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) in 2005-2007 and then served as economic adviser to then President Mikheil Saakashvili, is the third placed candidate in the list. Before becoming chief of the central bank, he was a member of Parliament and chair of committee for finance and budgetary issues for slightly over a year; he was with the Republican Party up until the latter quit then ruling coalition with UNM in June, 2004; Gotsiridze decided to stay with the UNM and nine months later he was appointed as head of the central bank.
Fourth in the list is Nika Melia, who was UNM’s mayoral candidate in 2014 local elections; he received up to 28% of votes in the race and was defeated by GD coalition’s Davit Narmania.
Giorgi Tugushi, who chairs Tbilisi-based human rights watchdog group Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), is ranked fifth in the list. He served as Public Defender since 2009 before becoming minister in charge of the prison system in late September, 2012. Then President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed Tugushi as the minister after the prison scandal and he served on the post for less than couple of months before UNM was defeated in the parliamentary elections.
Sixth in the list is Otar Kakhidze, a partner in Tbilisi-based law firm BGI Legal; he served at various positions in the Ministry of Justice since 2009 and was Deputy Justice Minister for few months before UNM was defeated in the 2012 parliamentary elections. As a practicing lawyer, he was representing clients in some of the high-profile cases, among them involving ex-interior minister Vano Merabishvili.
Salome Samadashvili, who was Georgia’s ambassador to the EU in 2005-2013, is ranked seventh in UNM’s party list, followed by Irakli Abesadze, who is now a member of the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) from the UNM party and former vice-mayor of Tbilisi.
UNM also named on Monday some other candidates, who will also be in the party-list, among them are: Lela Keburia, former head of the Education Ministry’s resource center in Zugdidi; Dimitri Dzagnidze, a lawyer who was deputy head of presidential administration and president’s parliamentary secretary in 2012-2013 and deputy justice minister before that; Sophio Siukaeva, a member of local council in Terjola of Imereti region; Nino Kvitaishvili, a former public school principal; Mariam Raminashvili, a former principal of one of Tbilisi’s public schools, and Beso Tserediani, a former official from the ministry in charge of IDPs.
MP Bakradze said that UNM will offer voters lower taxes, decriminalization of financial offenses, infrastructure development, social assistance for those who need it the most, increase of minimal monthly pensions by GEL 50.
“We will win elections in order to put an end to confrontation and retributions,” he said.