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By-elections in April

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 8
By-elections in three majoritarian districts are scheduled for April 27th. Those three seats became vacant after members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition Thea Tsulukiani, Kakha Kaladze and Archil Kbilashvili received high-ranked positions in the government.

These by-elections are very important both for Georgian Dream and the opposition United National Movement (UNM). These elections will show the real balance of power in Georgia. Besides the two main parties around 14 other parties such as the Christian-Democratic Movement, the National Democratic Party and the Labour Party will have candidates running. For third parties it is an opportunity to gain at least one seat in Parliament.

The three majoritarian districts are in Samtredia and Bagdati (in the Imereti region) and Nadzaladevi (in Tbilisi). According to the Central Election Commission (CEC) the Nadzaladevi district has 132, 021 registered voters, Bagdati has 23,380 and Samtredia has 48,161.

Besides those candidates nominated by political parties there are a further five individuals running independently. However, none of the third party or independent candidates have a realistic chance of entering Parliament. The major battle will be between Georgian Dream and the UNM's candidates.

Kakha Kakhishvili from the NGO Election and Political Science Centre has made an interesting proposal. He has asked Georgian Dream not to participate in the upcoming by-elections so as to give a chance for third party candidates to gain a seat in Parliament.

If third party candidates were elected it would create another faction in Parliament which might eventually join Georgian Dream and create more problems for the UNM.

Most political analysts think that it is unlikely that the Georgian Dream will follow this suggestion. It is very important for the coalition to gain a constitutional majority and thus every single parliamentary seat counts. Moreover, it needs another victory to prove it has strong popular support.

As for the UNM, victory in at least one of these districts will be of upmost importance in preserving party morale and unity, as well as proving their continued relevance.

So the stakes are very high and both major parties will mobilize their entire strength to achieve victory. One more challenge remains-to conduct elections that are transparent and fair. That seems likely to happen.