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How to elect the president

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 21
According to the Georgian constitution, in October of 2013, the country has to elect a new president. The two terms of presidency for Saakashvili expired on January 20, though he continues to occupy the post for another nine months. However, in October this will finish. As such, there are many controversies that exist in the country– debates over who will run for president and how the elections will be held.

Historically, the president has been established in Georgia through a direct vote by the people. Recently however, a new idea has emerged that puts forth that the president should be elected by the parliament. This was initiated by the Republican Party. This model makes it very comfortable for the current Georgian Dream administration to select the desired candidate. Indeed the president elected by the parliament will certainly correspond to the new model of the president who through the constitutional amendments of 2010, was deprived of a large portion of powers and rights.

To implement such a change and the elect president via the parliament, yet other constitutional amendments are required. Here the Georgian Dream has problems. It could not accumulate enough votes among the parliament members to exercise a constitutional majority and the opposition UNM is categorically against changing the rules of the game. PM Ivanishvili even suggested holding a referendum or plebiscite about this issue, though no steps have been taken in this regard.

Actually this is a risky game because nobody knows how the people will respond to this question. Presumably, this presidential election will be held according to the existing norms, so the president will be elected by direct votes and the population will speak with their votes. So far neither of the leading political forces has revealed their choice. There was however, a mini scandal within the ruling party some weeks ago, when defense minister and the leader of the Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, was criticized for discussing his presidential candidacy within the party. However, there is no discord within the ruling coalition and all the members repeat that they will have one united candidate for the presidency, though no names are known as of yet.

Similarly, no presidential candidate has been named from the UNM. Current Secretary General and former Minister of Interior, Vano Merabishvili and former chairman of the parliament, Davit Bakradze, are named among the candidates. However, there could be another public figure named as the UNM candidate for presidency.

Political figures from other parties also have some claims. For instance, the notorious leader from the Labour party, Shalva Natelashvili will run for sure. More serious claims are from the side of former chairperson of the parliament Nino Burjanadze, who wants to return to active politics. However, in the coming seven month before the official elections, there could be many changes to this list.

After all, this is Georgia...