Amid controversy Presidential election set for October 31
By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, July 3
The presidential elections will be held on October 31st instead of the 27 as it was previously announced by the president’s administration on Monday evening.
The Head of the Administration of the President of Georgia, Andro Barnovi, held a briefing later on July 1 to make an apology to the public for announcing October 27th as the incorrect date. Barnovi said the mistake was of a technical nature.
“The last day of October has been set as the election date and a relevant legal act from the president has already been sent to the Central Election Commission and has been posted on our website,” Barnovi stated. It is requested by the constitution to hold the presidential elections in October.
The announced date has already caused some controversy. Political analyst Kakha Kahishvili says the Election Day might be wrongly chosen. He claims that according to the election code, polling day has to be a day off. Therefore, the presidential elections should not be held on October 31, as it is a Thursday. Kahishvili says the president has to alter the polling date.
Khatuna Gogorishvili, member of the United National Movement, who has significant experience working at the CEC, agrees with Kakhishvili, saying the president should have chosen either Saturday or Sunday as a polling day, as it is required by Georgian legislation.
However, Chairman of the International Society for Fair Elections (ISFED), Nino Lomjaria, says Saakashvili is not obliged to change the date of the Presidential elections. According to Lomjaria, the article of the Election Code which allegedly requires the election to be held on a day off is an error in the legislation. She explained that the article is now out of date. It was created in accordance with the constitutional provision directly requesting to hold Presidential Elections only on Sundays. However, this article has been removed from the constitution. Therefore Saakashvili can choose any week day for the elections, Lomjaria said.
The election day should also be announced by the CEC and an official statement published on the CEC webpage.
Meanwhile, the political parties have already begun preparations for the presidential elections and consultations about their candidates.
The candidate from Georgian Dream Coalition, Giorgi Margvelashvili, currently holding the post of Minister of Education, is ready to resign from the post as soon as he starts his election campaign. The minister said even though he is not obliged to resign from the post by law, he is going to as an expression of “political culture.” Before leaving the post, Margvelashvili said he will finalize the project he has started at the Ministry of Education.
Georgian opera singer Paata Burchuladze will be presented by the political party Georgian Troupe as a candidate in the upcoming elections, if only Burchuladze agrees to run for presidency.
Leader of the party, Jondi Baghaturia, held a press conference and announced that the final decision whether Burchuladze will participate in the election or not will be announced in mid July. Baghaturia hopes that the famous Georgian will make a positive decision and participate in the elections. “If Paata Burchuladze decides to take part in the elections, he will become the president with high probability,” Baghaturia said.
Labour Party Leader, Shalva Natelashvili is also ready to win the battle, while the United National Movement yet has to select the most worthy candidate through primaries.