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Who will be second place?!

By Messenger Staff
Friday, October 25
Election Day approaches quietly and calmly, although there is still some tension in the air. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition have constantly declared that their presidential candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili, will become the president with an overwhelming majority. Ivanishvili even announced that if a second round becomes necessary, he might advise Margvelashvili to withdraw his candidacy. This has created an awkward situation for the ruling party, with Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili explaining that the prime minister's remarks were "metaphorical".

Nobody really doubts that Margvelashvili will be elected in either the first or the second round but now the main intrigue is who will come second. Opposition challengers Davit Bakradze of the United National Movement (UNM) and Nino Burjanadze of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia hope that the election will be close. If a second round of voting is needed their coming second will be crucial for their future political careers.

Analysts have suggested that Ivanishvili’s statement about the withdrawal of Margvelashvili in case of a second round was aimed at mobilizing the Georgian Dream electorate. The major threat to Georgian Dream is apathy among their supporters because many people take Margvelashvili's victory for granted and thus might not bother to vote. Meanwhile, Bakradze’s and Burjanadze’s supporters will be more mobilized as this might be their final chance to win.

If a second round of voting is necessary, then Margvelashvili has two options. Margvelashvili can ignore Ivanishvili's statement and continue his campaign, or he can withdraw and let the second place challenger become president. If the latter option takes place, either Burjanadze or Bakradze will rescue their political party and themselves.

If Bakradze wins, it will save the UNM and increase their chances in the forthcoming municipal government and parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2016, respectively. If the UNM candidate ends up third, most probably this will be the end of the UNM as a viable political entity.

Almost the same thing can be said about Burjanadze and her party. If she ends up second, she will officially become the major opposition force in the country, although outside of parliament. If Burjanadze comes in second, she will definitely attract much more support inside the country and receive further recognition abroad.

Here it should be mentioned that Burjanadze is known as a person with pro-Russian interests. Moreover, Burjanadze and her supporters will insist on snap parliamentary elections and if that takes place, then Georgian Dream might sweep control of Parliament.

Who will come in second place? That is the question.