More attempts to find a single candidate
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, April 6The opposition are still trying to find a single opposition candidate for Tbilisi Mayor. A meeting concerning this issue was held between the Alliance for Georgia’s Sozar Subari, leader of Defend Georgia Levan Gachechiladze, head of Industry Will Save Georgia Gogi Topadze and National Council representatives on April 3.
Subari, who has been nominated as an Alliance candidate in the Tbilisi City Council elections with the intention that he become Chair of the City Council, stated on March 31 that he was ready to withdraw his candidacy. “The local elections are getting closer and making statements is no longer enough; concrete steps are needed. Therefore I am ready to renounce my own candidature and support another opposition candidate for City Council Chair. The Alliance for Georgia already has an obvious Mayoral candidate – Irakli Alasania – and therefore I believe it will be more just if a City Council Chairmanship candidate is appointed from another opposition group," Subari said. Defend Georgia, the Industrialists and the National Council (Conservatives, People’s Party, Movement for Fair Georgia, Party of the Future, Christian Georgia and Patriot's Party) responded to this offer and thus this meeting was held.
Gachechiladze said after the meeting that he was not seeking to be the common candidate for the Tbilisi Mayoral or City Council elections. "Neither Subari nor I are fighting for the Tbilisi City Council leadership. I state directly that I am not fighting to be the Mayoral candidate either. I am fighting to achieve agreement between the opposition parties. I have already explained to Subari that opposition victory is dependent upon uniting against the present Government. I am absolutely ready to support any opposition candidate on whom the parties agree,” Gachechiladze said. Koba Davitashvili, leader of the People’s Party, said that the main topic of the meeting had been the unification formula. "Subari presented us with the Alliance for Georgia’s vision of how we should unite to select the common candidate and we gave him our visions. Now Subari will talk to other Alliance members and only after this will it be decided whether another meeting will be scheduled,” Davitashvili said.
Gogi Topadze stated that "all the parties attending the meeting agreed that the opposition should have a single candidate for the Tbilisi Mayoral elections, so holding such meetings and negotiations is very significant. I appeal to all influential opposition parties, including those which have refused to participate in the local elections, to get involved in this process.” However the Labour Party has dismissed this appeal. "We will boycott these elections, as they will be a farce and nothing more, called 'elections' only by our President, Mikheil Saakashvili. Everything has been decided already - the Tbilisi Mayor will be Government’s candidate, Gigi Ugulava, once again,” Soso Shatberashvili from the party said.
The National Council began selecting its regional candidates through primaries on April 5. This process will be finished by April 20, however primaries will not be held in Kvemo Kartli. "All six parties who make up the National Council have managed to agree on their candidates in that region, therefore primaries are not needed there. The opposition candidates in each precinct will be absolutely reliable and acceptable. I cannot specify the exact number of candidates which will be presented by the National Council at the local elections, but this will be known in the nearest days,” Ivane Shatirishvili, Chair of the Kvemo Kartli regional district election commission of the National Council, said.
Analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili says that Subari is the most appropriate candidate for City Council Chair. "For me personally Subari’s candidacy is very acceptable, as he has been Public Defender and has great experience of political life and relations with people. Alasania for Tbilisi Mayor and Subari for Tbilisi City Council are very acceptable candidates, however it will be difficult for the Alliance to get both candidates adopted or elected. Subari really has a chance to win these elections, as the Government might let the opposition take the City Council leadership to keep the balance, as the person who wins the Mayoral elections will be a significant future candidate for President while City Council Chair is a more technical post rather than a platform for achieving success in the Presidential elections,” Khutsishvili told The Messenger.