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What’s in a slogan?

By Eter Tsotniashvili
Wednesday, May 14
With twelve political parties and blocs vying for seats in next week’s parliamentary elections, a glance at their various campaign slogans gives a convenient snapshot of the political field.

Under the banner of “Action, not words!” ruling National Movement leader Mikheil Saakashvili has opened new factories and trade centers in an energetic and high-profile campaign based on delivering social welfare.

On the other hand the nine-party opposition coalition has made words the order of the day, fusing speeches with fiery anti-government rhetoric and stating that any “action” Saakashvili is touting at the moment won’t last past election day.

Focusing their campaign on ridding the country of what they say is a violent and oppressive regime, they are appealing to voters as “The movement for liberating Georgia.”

Earlier this month Levan Gachechiladze, a leader of the coalition, said his political career is devoted to ending Saakashvili’s time in office, threatening to “make him leave by force” in the event of rigged elections.

The more moderate Republican Party, which left the opposition coalition in March, is calling on voters to “Elect a rational government.” A recent survey suggests they may not clear the vote threshold for parliamentary representation.

The populist Labor Party, which was paints itself as the only political movement not cooperating with Saakashvili, have opted for the less snappy “It’s time for building and salvation.”

Suggesting that the National Movement is a misnomer, Labor says a vote for them is a vote to survive the rule of Saakashvili’s “anti-nationalist” party.

Composed of a host of television personalities and headed by a former popular news anchor, Giorgi Targamadze, the Christian Democratic Party hit the campaign trail with the generic slogan—“time for a change.”

Despite being set up only months ago, the Christian Democrats appear to have resonated with a large part of the electorate and a recent opinion poll places it third after the ruling party and nine-party coalition.

Tbilisi-based media analyst John Horan says the campaigns have had mixed success in establishing a clear position in the political terrain.

“The Republicans have staked out their niche as the intellectual alternative to the ruling party, as the united opposition has laid claim to the protest vote. The other major opposition groups, Labour and the Christian Democratic [Party], in contrast, have done little to highlight their ties with left-wing ideology and [religiosity], respectively,” he said.

The slogans of fringe blocs range from the generic “Stand together for a better future,” of the Traditionalists bloc, to the Christian Democratic Alliance’s more provocative “Georgia without rule by foreign forces!” The political Union of Georgian Sportsmen is displayed perhaps the most flair when it coined its slogan, “Play by the rules for a better future,” combining the notions of sportsmanship and change by constitutional means.