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Republicans not voting for UNM in second round

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 17
Caption: Khidasheli served as Defence Minister last year. Caption: GDDG member Mariam Jashi By Gvantsa Gabekhadze Member of the opposition Republican Party and Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli has excluded the possibility of voting for the previous ruling, and now opposition, United National Movement (UNM) party in the second round of majoritarian voting.

“I am not going to vote for the UNM with the motivation that the current ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party may get a constitutional majority in the future Parliament,” Khidasheli said.

She made her statement in the wake of the October 8 parliamentary elections, wherein 44 seats out of the 150-seat legislative body were won by the GDDG, 27 by the UNM and 6 by the Alliance of Patriots in proportional voting.

All the other parties, including the Republicans, failed to overcome the 5% threshold.

In the majoritarian voting, the GDDG candidates won in 23 majoritarian constituencies, but a second round of the majoritarian voting in the remaining 50 constituencies will take place some time before November 2, as none of the candidates managed to gain more than 50% of the votes.

Out of the 50 constituencies, GDDG and UNM candidates will oppose one another in 44 areas.

As the ruling party candidates gained more votes in the first round of the majoritarian race than the other candidates, the UNM speaks about the threat of the constitutional majority, 100 MPs in Parliament from one party, the GDDG may get in the future legislative body.

The constitutional majority means the ruling party will be able to change such laws they previously were unable to do during 2012-2016 when they were not the majority party in parliament.

The UNM says the ruling team, with its constitutional majority, can amend the rules for electing the President, return parliament from Kutaisi to Tbilisi and other major changes.

To avoid this, the UNM, party which ran Georgia in 2003-2012, says it is important the supporters of other opposition parties to vote for the UNM candidates in the second round of voting.

“I’ll never get involved in a campaign aimed at voting for the United National Movement party,” Khidasheli said, who belongs to a party which was a member of the Georgian Dream coalition established by ex-Prime Minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, and which defeated the nine-year rule of the UNM in 2012.

However, the coalition split for this year’s elections and the Republicans participated separately.

“A constitutional majority is a punishment in the first place for those who have it. A constitutional majority is bad, dangerous and difficult for a country hoping to enter Europe. In the meantime, we already have it and it is better for everyone to put up with it as soon as possible”, Khidasheli added.

According to her, she is not going to vote for any party in the second round, as she does not think that more UNM MPs in Parliament will be capable to improve situation.

“They both [UNM, GDDG] are the same catastrophe for the country,” she added.

Fellow member of Republicans Levan Berdzenishvili said “we let a team without a ruling license rule the country..”

He said it was Ivanishvili, his influence and his finances that defeated the Republicans in the elections.

“Ivanishvili defeated us. Actually he defeated Georgia, and every political party,” Berdzenishvili said.

In response to the statements about the alleged constitutional majority, GDDG majoritarian candidate Mariam Jashi stated “In 2008, the UNM won 119 seats in Parliament, but for some reason the issue of the constitutional majority has become a subject of discussion only today.

“I joined the Georgian Dream because I believed that this was a team which had made absolutely every decision to protect human rights since 2012. I cannot agree with the position that the Georgian Dream is passing the same path that was passed under the United National Movement,” Jashi said.

Analysts believe the constitutional majority can be a “temptation” for any party to make any major changes it wants.

They also say having the constitutional majority also pushed the UNM to make “fatal mistakes”.