The messenger logo

2013 Presidential elections in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 12
In 2013, Georgia will elect a new president. Eight years of Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency expires and according to the Georgian constitution he is prohibited from staying more than two presidential terms. There are controversies in Georgia about the exact Presidential Election Day. The Georgian constitution stipulates that elections should be held in October of 2013. However, there exists another clause in the Georgian constitution which indicates that the president’s one term ends in five years.

Saakashvili was elected on January 5, 2008. According to this paragraph, five years expire on January 5, 2013. This discrepancy appears in the Georgian constitution because of negligence on behalf of the previous parliament or the attempt of the former administration to prolong Saakashvili’s presidency for additional ten months. This way or another, the election should take place next year– probably in October.

Thus the possible political forces who will compete in the election should think of their presidential candidates. Presumably there will be two major candidates from the current and former political teams: the Georgian Dream coalition and the United National Movement (UNM).

Recent polling conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) showed that if the presidential elections were held now, the Georgian Dream candidate would receive 63%, while the UNM candidate – only 13%. According to this assessment, one could say that the results of the elections would be obvious. However, the situation is not that simple.

The Georgian Dream coalition has not yet identified its presidential candidate. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has mentioned several different candidates for presidency. Before the parliamentary elections he spoke of Republican MP Vakhtang Khmaladze as a possible president. In different circumstances he also mentioned the elderly MP Ivane Kiguradze. The current Defense Minister Irakli Alasania was also nominated. Neither of these candidates has been officially nominated as possible presidents yet. It is obvious that the final decision will belong to Ivanishvili.

Before the elections the UNM candidates named one of two possible candidates: Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. However, the party has not yet identified who would be running for presidency. There are speculations that before the presidential elections the UNM might change its name and supposedly offer Merabishvili as its presidential candidate. It is not excluded that the choice could be changed, although Vano Merabishvili was quite popular among certain groups of the population as his name was connected with successful police reform and the eradication of crime.

Certain presidential claims may appear about other politicians as well, in particular the former parliamentary chairwoman Nino Burjanadze. The Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) may nominate Giorgi Targamadze’s candidacy. Some smaller parties may also join the presidential race. It is also possible that in due-time, the Georgian Dream coalition achieves a constitutional majority in parliament and might even introduce amendments in the state constitution so that the president could be selected by MPs not public voting. In this case it is natural that the future president will be from the Georgian Dream coalition. So the intrigue remains as always.