Renowned Georgian operatic bass and the founder of the State for the People party, Paata Burchuladze, announced at the party congress on December 14 that he will be quitting politics – two months after the party’s crushing defeat in Georgia’s October 8 parliamentary elections.
Burchuladze said that he “rules out” his return to politics and gives way to young generation. “I have already done my job,” he told Rustavi 2 TV.
Burchuladze, 61, a long-time philanthropist, who launched the State for the People party just few months before elections, was planning to win a “solid” representation in the Parliament of Georgia and was viewed as a possible third party challenger to the nearly-uncontested dominance of Georgia’s two major political parties - the Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia and the United National Movement.
With 11 percent support among likely voters, Burchuladze’s Movement, polled third in International Republican Institute’s March opinion survey, not too far behind from GDDG’s 19 percent and UNM’s 18 percent support. The later figures however, showed the State for the People party struggling to clear the 5 percent threshold.
Burchuladze’s efforts to increase the party’s electoral chances through teaming up with the New Political Center – Girchi, the New Georgia and the New Rights parties on August 18, appeared to be unsuccessful. The four-party electoral block suffered from serious setbacks, including the defections of Burchuladze’s political allies and the withdrawal of New Political Center – Girchi just days before the parliamentary elections.
On October 8, Burchuladze’s electoral bloc garnered 3.45 percent of votes, failing to pass the 5 percent threshold necessary to win parliamentary seats and losing all majoritarian contests across the country. However, this amount proved enough for Burchuladze’s party to receive annual budgetary funding for the next four years amounting to GEL 195 511 per year.
A 24-year-old party activist Nika Machutadze will replace Paata Burchuladze as the new chairman of the State for the People party. “Above all, our goal is [to conduct] the internal reorganization, and then, to continue the pursuit that this movement initially intended,” Machutadze explained after his election at the party congress.