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Election date changed again

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 5
President Mikheil Saakashvili produced a surprise regarding the upcoming Georgian presidential election in October. His erratic behavior once again put the populace at a loss. It seems Saakashvili has lost all perspective on reality.

On July 1st Saakashvili's spokesman announced that Sunday, October 27th would be the date of the presidential election. The same day Andro Barnov said the election would be held on Thursday, October 31st, explaining that the previous date was a technical error. But that was not all. On July 3rd Saakashvili announced again that October 27th would be the date for the presidential election.

Choosing October 31st as the date for the election caused great speculation. The main argument against this date was that it is not on the weekend and therefore would create problems for working people, who would need to take time off work to vote. It would also be awkward for Georgians working abroad to explain to their employers that they have to take time off to vote and therefore might discourage them from exercising their right of suffrage.

One possible solution to this would be to declare October 31st an official holiday. But this option also posed difficulties such as economic loss and the unwillingness of private businesses to give their employees a one-day holiday.

Opposition leader Salome Zourabichvili said the decision to have the election on a weekday was an insult to Georgian citizens living abroad. State Minister for Diaspora Issues Kote Surguladze echoed that sentiment and described Saakashvili’s decision as shameful and regretful.

The head of the Central Election Commission Zurab Kharatishvili, however, supported the president’s decision by claiming that the number of Georgian voters registered abroad is not that great and used statistics from previous elections to prove his point. In 2008 approximately 35,000 voters were registered abroad and in 2012 approximately 45,000.

Opinions differed over the issue. Several NGOs who submitted a special appeal to Saakashvili with a request to change the date. As the result of this pressure Saakashvili changed the date to October 27th-hopefully it will be the final decision on the matter.