Gigi Ugulava, former Mayor of Tbilisi and one of the leaders of the newly-established Movement for Liberty - European Georgia, said the new party will put individual freedoms above state-building, arguing this was their major ideological difference from more statist United National Movement (UNM). Ugulava spoke on the past mistakes of the UNM administration, political plans of the new party and the differences between the two in his January 30 interview with Georgian news website Netgazeti.
Gigi Ugulava outlined that the new party’s ideological standing would be center-right, explaining “it means maximum economic liberalization, maximum economic freedom and political freedoms,” he explained.
Ugulava noted that “if there was no [ideological] difference, the party [UNM] would not have split.”
“Our views in terms of a number of issues are much more liberal compared to our previous teammates. With respect to economics, we are in favor of de-regulation and liberalization; in terms of political freedoms, we have much more radical agenda; but the main difference, in my opinion, will be on our vision on the interaction between the state and the individual, on which of the two takes precedence. I think that the state does not exist in isolation; the state is created by an individual, individuals, group of individuals and therefore, individual freedom is much more important than certain state interests,” Ugulava stated.
He also said that the new party will favor small government: “the state should be small, flexible, with low budget to ensure that there is more freedom and people enjoy more economic and political freedoms. There are no political freedoms without economic freedom and vice versa, it is impossible to have economically developed country without political freedoms.”
Speaking on the problems of UNM’s government, Gigi Ugulava noted that that the party was, “sometimes,” more concentrated on strengthening the state, “at the expense of an ordinary citizen.” Speaking of UNM mistakes, he added “it was the speed [of reforms] that led to losing an individual in the course of state-building and it caused all those problems, including problems in law enforcement agencies.” UNM lost power in 2012 on the wave of the major scandal linked to abuse of prisoners in detention facilities.
Ugulava added that the new political movement would “deal with [past] mistakes” and “pursue the values of the Rose Revolution [of 2013, which brought UNM to power], which, “first and foremost, was about the people.”
He also touched upon the Movement for Liberty`s political plans and stated that the upcoming municipal elections “will be the first test” for the new party.
Ugulava described the electoral landscape in Georgia as “blurred” and added that the playing field remains wide open. “A huge electoral segment is free, including those who voted in favor of the Georgian Dream in the last parliamentary elections, those who did not like the party but voted by inertia.”
“Of course, all of the 500000 UNM voters, who voted for the party [in the last parliamentary elections] when we were together, are our potential voters and also many more, who share the center-right stances,” Ugulava said.