Three days after Davit Usupashvili announced about splitting his way with the Republicans, other leading members are following suit.
Among them are Tinatin Khidasheli, ex-defense minister (who happens to be Usupashvili’s spouse); members of the outgoing parliament Vakhtang Khmaladze, Pridon Sakvarelidze, Nodar Ebanoidze; deputy minister for regional development and infrastructure Tengiz Shergelashvili. The former State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Paata Zakareishvili has also split ways with the Republicans, albeit in difference to Usupashvili spoke in favor of closer cooperation with, rather than opposition to, the ruling party.
The Republican Party said withdrawal of these members is a “loss” for the party, but it would be strengthened by “new force”.
Davit Usupashvili said on November 1 that the country “definitely” needs a new political force, because “following the parliamentary elections the political system became empty of political parties.”
He also said that in next 2-3 months he will hold consultations with various individuals, but not the political parties, on “forming a new political team.”
Usupashvili also hinted that the new political force, if formed, should have long-term goals of establishment of a political system and it should focus on changing the government through the 2020 parliamentary elections.
“I will not talk with parties; instead, I will talk with those individuals, who are willing to do it,” Usupashvili said in an interview with Pirveli TV.
He said that the Republican Party members, who have just quit the party, will be the first, with whom he will confer about his planned “new political project.”
When asked if there was Bidzina Ivanishvili’s hand in his decision to quit the Republicans and intention to launch a new party, Usupashvili responded: “Is Bidzina Ivanishvili willing to create opposition for Georgian Dream? I do not rule it out; on the contrary, I almost believe that he probably has such desire.”
He, however, also added that he has no intention whatsoever of “becoming opposition set up by Ivanishvili.”
Usupashvili denied speculations about teaming up with President Giorgi Margvelashvili. President’s spokesperson Eka Mishveladze also denied that the President had any plans to become more active in terms of partisan political activities.
“The President is ready for a dialogue with all the political parties, but the issue of creating a political party under the President’s wing is not being considered at this stage,” Mishveladze said and added that developments that are now taking place in politics is “bad.”
The Republican Party is not the first party, where leaders have quit after the October 8 parliamentary elections. Irakli Alasania and several other leaders of the Free Democrats quit the party shortly after the elections.
Republicans and Free Democrats came to power in coalition with Georgian Dream following the 2012 parliamentary elections; but Free Democrats quit the coalition in autumn 2014 and the Republican Party had to split in summer 2016 after Georgian Dream decided to run in the elections independently.