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Presidential elections approaching fast

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 14
Approximately four months are left before the next presidential election in Georgia. Mikheil Saakashvili’s second term will expire later this year, so Georgia will definitely have a new president come October.

Analysts, observers, politicians and ordinary citizens think this is very important. For the first time since the country regained its independence the president will finish his term in a normal, democratic way. No coup d'etats, revolutions, or drama like that will occur.

The current Georgian government and in particular Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is committed to ensure a completely democratic transition of power.

Although President Saakashvili is a headache to the Georgian Dream coalition (who want to see him gone as soon as possible) he will exert his power until the last day he is in office.

The ruling coalition has already nominated its candidate for the presidency. This is the current Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Science Giorgi Margvelashvili. According to Prime Minister Ivanishvili, who personally nominated Margvelashvili and supports him, the latter perfectly fits the new model of a Georgian president – a person with limited powers and who is modest and not ambitious.

Being nominated and supported by Ivanishvili is at the same time an advantage and a disadvantage for Margvelashvili. The general consensus is that he will get many votes simply from the fact that he is Ivanishvili’s candidate; however, there will be voters who for exactly the same reason will not support him. Besides, there will be a segment of voters for whom a President should still be an independent and strong figure.

However, almost all observers and commentators agree so far that Margvelashvili has no serious competitor in the presidential race.

The United National Movement (UNM) has not yet nominated its candidate. Before his arrest the former Prime Minister and current Secretary General of the UNM Vano Merabishvili was supposed to be the UNM candidate but obviously his incarceration changed things. In his stead, a number of other UNM candidates have been suggested, including the former Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze, former Minister for Euro-integration Gia Baramidze, among others.

Almost all analysts agree that whichever UNM candidate runs will struggle to receive even 10% of the vote.

There are already some other politicians who have thrown their hat in the ring for the presidency. Among them is the leader of Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili, who is a tragic-comic figure and has no chance against Margvelashvili.

Former Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze has also made her argument for becoming president. She had been in the higher echelons of government for some time now, first during Eduard Shevardnadze’s governance and later Saakashvili's. Twice she was interim president. She considers herself an experienced and respectable politician. However lately she has taken a distinctly pro-Russian stance. Thus she is now facing a dilemma of how to balance her pro-Western and pro-Russian stances.

Some other figures have also joined the race although none of them can be considered serious challengers against the Georgian Dream candidate. The only real challenge that Margvelashvili might face is if all the other parties united around one candidate. However this seems very unlikely. Thus, we can assume that Georgia will have Giorgi Margvelashvili as its next President.