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Ivanishvili's controversial position

By Messenger Staff
Monday, October 21
Just ten days before the elections on October 17, and while meeting the chief editors of print media and radio outlets, Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili repeatedly stated that his hand-picked presidential candidate from the Georgian Dream Coalition, Giorgi Margvelashvili, will win the election in the first round.

This is a very positive position, understandable and welcome, showing the confidence of the PM in the victory of his candidate. Unfortunately, the further development of his position was rather strange and bordering on the bizarre. Later, he said that in the case a second round is necessary, he would recommend that Margvelashvili withdraw from the race. Moreover, he even added that in the case Margvelashvili collects less than 60% of the votes, he would still recommend him to withdraw his candidacy. Giorgi Margvelashvili also repeated the opinion of the PM.

However, the next day, Chairman of the Parliament, Davit Usufashvili, tried to clear-up the situation, explaining that both the PM and Margvelashvili embrace a metaphorical vision of their position and their words should not be taken as the final decision of the coalition, but, rather an individual opinion. Of course these statements were received by the public as a shock. This set off intensive speculation among political analysts, politicians, journalists and citizens alike, as they scrambled to guess as to what exactly the PM’s statement actually meant.

Some share Usufashvili’s position, and some provide other opinions. Many feel this is a very irresponsible, and arrogant position, in addition to it being highly unprofessional and capricious on the part of both figures.

The optimistic vision of such a statement is that it is simply a shrewd political strategy. By suggesting such a position, the PM and Margvelashvili are attempting to mobilize their constituent voters, so they will feel an urgency to participate in the election and vote for Margvelashvili (seeing as how public perception is that the Georgian Dream will win the election in a landslide). Otherwise, the results could be so dramatic that the conditions could appear ripe for a UNM comeback.

According to the regulations of the central Election Commission (CEC) the second round of the election will be called for if in the first round neither of the candidates collect more than 50% + 1 of the vote. After that, if any of the two leading candidates wants to withdraw from the race they must submit a written application to the CEC 10 days prior to the second round, with a request to withdraw from the race. In this case, the election will be held with only one candidate on the list and they could win by only having one vote.