Melia vs Kaladze – who will unite?

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According to Radio Liberty, the main part of the opposition will nominate a general candidate for the mayor of the capital on Friday, July 23, and he will most likely be the chairman of the “National Movement”, MP Nika Melia. How united and united will the opposition be around him?

As far as we know, we do not see a “Strategy Builder” among Melia’s open supporters; The party “Lelo” is still thinking. Fighting for the post of Tbilisi mayor in the upcoming elections is one of the main tasks, but the main goal of the opposition is to get more than 57% in the proportional part of the elections by joint forces. In this case, according to the “Charles Michel Agreement”, early parliamentary elections should be held in 2022.

When will it be named? Who will be named?

“Our union and other opposition parties have an agreement that we will agree on common candidates in the coming days … It seems that an agreement will be reached” – Murman Dumbadze, the representative of the National Movement – “Power is in Unity” tells RFE / RL.

He hopes that the opposition will agree not only on key posts in the capital municipality, but also on all major cities throughout Georgia.

The National Movement itself hopes to reconcile its positions with other parties. The party says consultations have been going on for a long time and the public will soon find out which party will be represented in the configuration agreed upon by the opposition unity. According to preliminary information on Friday, July 23:

  • Nika Melia, the chairman of the National Movement, will be nominated as a candidate for the mayor of the capital;
  • Elene Khoshtaria, the founder of “Droa” will be nominated as the Chairman of the City Council. This post is not subject to the rule of direct election and the candidate is later approved by the already staffed City Council.

At this stage, we can say for sure that “European Georgia” will support Nika Melia’s candidacy. The party did not confirm the information to Radio Liberty that their representative may be nominated for the post of vice-mayor.

The Secretary General of European Georgia, Akaki Bobokhidze, tells us that “time is running out”, the process has already been delayed and the opposition must announce a joint decision quickly. According to him, it is possible that only the candidates for Tbilisi mayor and Sakrebulo will be announced tomorrow, “who are the parties to the common agreement” and what the action plan will be throughout Georgia.

According to the spread information, one of the key posts was also about the founder of the party “Girchi – More Freedom”, MP Zurab Japaridze.

This information could not be verified. The party told us that Japaridze is currently isolated due to Kovid and is completely removed from the political process. Earlier, however, according to Radio Liberty, he had consultations with opposition colleagues.

Zurab Japaridze expressed his desire to vote for the post of the mayor of the capital in May.

According to preliminary information, a large part of the non-parliamentary opposition supports Nika Melia’s candidacy.

Why Nika Melia? Supporters say he has real potential to win.

  • Nika Melia also ran for Tbilisi mayor on behalf of the United National Movement in 2014, when he advanced to the second round with a share of 27.97% and challenged the Georgian Dream candidate, Davit Narmania;
  • In the 2020 parliamentary elections, Melia was number three on the list of the United National Movement bloc and also ran in the Gldani constituency. According to the CEC, in the first round he received more than 44% and showed a better result than the representative of the “Georgian Dream”.

Rejected and “We Have Not Decided Yet”

It is already known that “Strategy Builder” will not support Nika Melia’s candidacy. Giorgi Vashadze’s party told RFE / RL that they were not participating in the consultations because Nika Melia’s support would further strengthen their “bipolarity.”

“Strategy Builder” has not yet decided whether he will run for mayor of the capital. The representative of the party, Sergo Chikhladze tells us that “Negotiations are underway with several parties.” He neither confirms nor denies the information of Radio Liberty that there is one such party – “Try for Georgia”.

“Our main priority is not to get 43% of the votes in this election” Georgian Dream “in order to achieve the appointment of early elections … Mayoral candidates or majoritarian candidates for the City Council is a secondary issue for us.” – Chikhladze tells us.

Unlike “Strategy Builder”, “Lelo” is involved in the ongoing consultations with the participation of the “National Movement”, but no final decision has been made yet.

“For us, the priority for this election is not the so-called Creating a third center, but also consolidating the opposition forces. We will consider several versions and may either support a common candidate or not nominate our candidate at all and choose such a position. We will have the answer by the end of the week. “Naturally, we have consultations with the United National Movement – it is the largest opposition party” – Pikria Chikhradze, one of the leaders of “Lelo” told Radio Liberty.

Pikria Chikhradze considers the initiative announced by Mamuka Khazaradze, the leader of “Lelo”, to form a shadow coalition government as an important parallel process. This initiative, which also caused some controversy between the leaders of the “Lelo” and the “National Movement” bloc, Chikhradze’s ongoing parliamentary process – for Gharibashvili’s government A declaration of no confidence Connects to the initiative.

However, almost no one succeeds in this process. According to Article 57 of the Constitution of Georgia, a minimum of 50 deputies have the right to raise the issue of no confidence in the Government in the Parliament. According to Radio Liberty, 49 MPs support this initiative at this stage.

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Some experts believe that after the Georgian Dream nominated Kakha Kaladze for mayor of the capital, the task of the opposition became more complicated, as Kaladze leads the rankings. However, it is also noted that, for example, according to the latest poll by “Edison Research”, it does not have the required rate to win the first round (more than 50%).

In a survey commissioned by Formula TV in late June, the percentages were distributed among the likely Tbilisi mayoral candidates as follows:

  • 32% – Kakha Kaladze;
  • 17% – Nika Melia;
  • 15% – Giorgi Gakharia;
  • 18% – none;
  • 18% – do not know / refuse to answer.

It is already known that Giorgi Gakharia himself will not run for Tbilisi mayor and his party – “Georgia” has not yet nominated another candidate. In May, the ex-premier said the party would have a better candidate than him.

Part of the society believes that the fate of the “Georgian Dream” candidate in the elections in Tbilisi, including, will be decided by whom Gakharia’s party will nominate for the post of mayor.

According to an April poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI), Gakharia (65%) had a higher rating than Kaladze (54%).

However, to the question posed in the latest Edison Research survey – today, if the Tbilisi mayoral election were held, who would you vote for in this election? – The answers were distributed as follows:

  • 34% – United Opposition candidate;
  • 30% – Georgian Dream candidate;
  • 13% – Giorgi Gakharia’s candidate for “Georgia” party;
  • 7% – none;
  • 16% – do not know / refuse to answer.

In the 2017 self-government elections, Kakha Kaladze won the first round with 51.09%.

The main opposition parties consider the agreement on common candidates and the joining of forces as an integral part of the move towards the main goal.

The main goal for them is that the “Georgian Dream” in the proportional part of the self-government elections (where all parties plan to act independently) can not get more than 43%.

A document signed on April 19 between part of the opposition and the Georgian Dream Charles Michel Agreement The text states that if the Georgian Dream fails to get more than 43% of the vote in the local elections, early parliamentary elections will be held in 2022.

Accordingly, the opposition considers the upcoming self-government elections as a kind of referendum.

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