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President says Gov’t ‘misled’ him over election campaign date

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 15
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated yesterday that political parties should have a three-month pre-election period for campaigning for the October parliamentary elections.

Taking the motive into account, Kvirikashvili refused to sign the President’s decree that envisaged launching of pre-election campaign on August 8, the date which was opposed by the opposition and the civil sector.

The PM’s statement was responded to by the President, who said it was the Government which persuaded him that starting the pre-election campaign in August was necessary.

The PM stressed that the election date of October 8, was agreed with the President and the decision would not be amended. However, when it came to the launch of the pre-election campaigns, the PM believed July 8 and not August 8 was the relevant time.

The Government’s Administration will send its recommendations to the President, and then President Giorgi Margvelashvili will re-announce the election date and the time for the launching of pre-election campaigns.

The PM must sign the President’s decree over the election date otherwise it will not be valid.

After the meeting with the PM on April 5, Margvelashvili sent a decree for the PM to sign the next day, which said the parliamentary elections must be held on October 8, while the pre-election campaigns must start on August 8.

The President said the launching of pre-election campaigns in August served the aim of saving budgetary funds, as the early launch of the pre-election campaign would cause larger expenses for the Central Election Commission staff and many other necessary election expenditures.

Responding to the PM’s statemen,t Margvelashvili said “he was persuaded by the Government that starting the election campaign earlier than August would be financially harmful for the state budget”.

“As it appears it is not like that at all,” the President said and added that in a new decree he would indicate May and not July as a starting point for the pre-election campaign.

He also said the President’s administration could help the Government and cover part of the election expenses.

Parliamentary majority representatives admitted there was a certain ‘misunderstanding’ that could be settled through mutual cooperation between the President and the Prime Minister.

Some of the majority MPs said the President should act based on state interests.

The Free Democrats opposition party slammed the lack of coordination between the state branches and state institutions.

Meanwhile, analyst Gia Khukashvili said the President was ‘trapped’ by the Government, which used Margvelashvili’s ‘constructive approaches’ against his image, as Margvelashvili’s statement about the start of the election campaign in August was strongly condemned by the opposition and the civil sector.

They said the time would not be enough for informing voters about political parties’ programmes and intentions, especially when August was a very passive period for campaigning due to holidays.

The analyst said that starting the election campaigns from August was the Government’s offer and not the President’s personal decision.