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Tales of party lists

By Messenger Staff
Friday, September 7
Parties participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections submitted their party lists earlier this week. Most parties are unlikely to overcome the minimum 5% barrier and their lists are of little interest to the general public. However, the party lists of the ruling United National Movement (UNM) and the main opposition group Georgian Dream are being closed observed by the Georgian media and analysts. The most attention is paid to the first 20 names on the lists.

The UNM submitted a list of 155 names; interestingly enough the list contains the names of 67 current MPs. This suggests that the ruling party wants to maintain its current parliamentary members, many of who are far from distinguished in their accomplishments while serving in Parliament. The list also reveals that the UNM is taking advantage of the amendment adopted in the constitution lowering the minimum MP age to 21. Number 10 on the list is 21-year-old Mariam Sajaia. She is the current press officer for the studentsí employment program Summer Job and daughter of former MP Nazi Aronia. 21- year-old Meri Kokaia and 22- year- old Samira Ismailova are also on the UNM list. 25% of Georgian Dream's candidates are women. Six of the top 20 on Georgian Dream's list are also running as majoritarian candidates so they have a double chance to enter Parliament.

There was considerable speculation beforehand about who would be leading the UNM list; eventually current Chairman of Parliament David Bakradze was announced as number one. The Georgian Dream coalition choice for number one on their list was even more surprising: former football star Kakha Kaladze. He has just started his political career and hasn't been in the political arena much longer than Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. Kaladze's main disadvantage is that he has little political experience which is also his main advantage in that he hasn't had time to commit any serious political errors. A peculiarity of the Georgian Dream coalition party list is that the top 20 names represent the leaders of the parties that make up the coalition, many of whom have been active in Georgian politics for some time. Some analysts suggest that for many party members Georgian Dream is just a vehicle for getting elected and that once in Parliament the coalition's unity will collapse.

There are some unresolved questions concerning the lists. Prominent Adjaran UNM supporter Koba Khabadzi's name is notably absent from the ruling party's list while Kakha Shartava's name is missing from Georgian Dream's party list.

Most voters will not be closely studying the political platforms and proposed programs of each party. Instead their decisions will be largely based on a preference for either one of the main party leaders: Saakashvili or Ivanishvili.