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Ana Dabrundashvili

Georgia Votes: Number 41, Drugs and TV Debates

Georgian Dream and UNM cannot agree on a TV debate; meanwhile, the Central Election Committee assigns number 41 to Georgian Dream as two of its members face drug charges.

author: Leo Reynolds, source: Flickr

Who Debates with Whom

Vano Merabishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, author: საქართველოს მთავრობა, source: Wikimedia Commons

A week ago Bidzina Ivanishvili challenged President Mikheil Saakashvili to a TV debate. The President did not show enthusiasm. Chiora Taqtaqishvili, the speaker of the UNM said that Vano Merabishvili, the acting Prime Minister and UNM’s candidate for the post, will sit in a debate with Ivanishvili, facing the prime ministerial candidate of Georgian Dream.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, while saying that he respects Merabishvili (the two, for an unknown reason, like each other), keeps demanding a debate with the President. He even promised that he won’t speak of any of Saakashvili’s mistakes, if the latter agrees.

Ivanishvili also called the rest of Georgian opposition the “false one” and said he would debate with them only if they admit that in reality they represent authorities, not their opponents. Some got angry. Members of the Labour Party called Ivanishvili a “penguin” and “the knight of the glass castle”, calling on him to debate with their leader Shalva Natelashvili, perhaps the most comic figure of all times in Georgian politics, any time anywhere.

As all political parties got so agitated about a TV debate, it seems that a debate on how to debate is going to last long.

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Number 41

Georgian Dream was assigned number 41 on the ballot paper while it asked for number 7. Number 7 was the number under which Conservative Party, which is now in the Coalition, participated in the previous elections. Georgian Dream says it has a right to keep the number.

The Central Election Committee explains that would be legitimate if all the parties in the bloc participated in the recent elections, which is not the case of the Coalition “Georgian Dream”. However, its representatives claim that in a similar case two years ago the Election Committee made a contradictory decision to this one. The two parties firmly stand their ground, confusing interpretations of the election code.

The UNM is going to run with number 5, and number 7 was long thought to be its fiercest competition. 7 is even known in Georgia as a certain sacral number. Anyhow, it sounds better than 41.

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Political prisoners?

Members of the Coalition “Georgian Dream” often blame Georgian authorities for oppression. On one of these cases, the leaders of the Coalition, Viqtor Dolidze and Sozar Subari, claimed that two of their activists that were jailed for drug consumption were indeed political prisoners.

This was followed by a footage from the Ministry of Interior Affairs showing the two men, shirtless, preparing and consuming drugs. The footage was shown by most televisions (by some more than once). Perhaps this reminded Georgia of the issue of broadcasting ethics, but there are fewer talks on political imprisonment.

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Georgia Votes

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Ana is from Tbilisi, Georgia, where she currently works for the Caucasus Research Resource Centers. She has an MA in International Relations and BA in Journalism. Pursues writing in free time and is interested in literature.

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