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Debates: Narmania vs Melia

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, July 11
Mayoral candidates David Narmania, with the Georgian Dream coalition (GD), and Nika Melia, with the United National Movement (UNM), debated at the Sheraton Hotel on July 9. Journalists took part in the debate and the event was broadcast by almost all of the major television networks.

The candidates spoke about their election programs and swapped lists of fulfilled and unfulfilled promises of their own parties.

During the debate Narmania said that Melia would take great advantage from ex-Mayor Gigi Ugulava’s detention, as the fact would make a free political arena for him. Ugulava acted as the head of the UNM election campaign until his detention.

“Ugulava’s detention is more beneficial for Melia than for me and the Georgian Dream, as Melia will no longer be affiliated with a person who is associated with a criminal past,” Narmania said.

Melia denied the claim, stressing that Ugulava’s detention created a better election environment only for Narmania.

If elected, Narmania said that he would carry out reforms at the mayor’s office and dismiss unqualified staff.

Commenting on journalists’ questions on his election programme being a bit unrealistic, Narmania stated that the programme was developed by him through various consultations and was absolutely real.

“Certain points might require time, but all the points will come true,” Narmania said.

Melia promises to decrease the price of fuel and transport. According to him, he will exercise pressure on the government to achieve the aim.

Debates were followed by estimations from majority and minority. UNM members stated that the debate was won by Melia, while GD members claim that Narmania brought all the main messages to the people.

Expert Kakhi Kakhishvili doubts ratings of Melia will increase after the debate.

“Narmania was ahead with 60, 000 votes. I think that these debates will have no impact on the outcome,” stated Kakhishvili.

Constitutionalist Vakhtang Dzabiradze said that Narmania was much more academic during the debates, while Melia was orientated on political topics. “My subjective opinion is that Narmania was acting more as a mayor should,” stated Dzabidadze.

Political analyst Archil Gamzardia said that the debates were more like discussions between activists of the UNM and GD.

The runoff of local elections will be held on July 12th.