In two weeks Georgia will vote to elect the country’s fourth president. The record number of candidates are competing for the post of the president, yet, quite naturally, quantity doesn’t mean quality.
The Magnificent Three
Giorgi Margvelashvili, the candidate of the Georgian Dream, leads in the opinion polls and it seems that votes for Davit Bakradze’s – supported by the United National Movement – will result in a run-off. Margvelashvili – not the most popular member of the government though the apparent favorite of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili – was regarded as a peculiar choice for Georgian Dream in the first place, as some people possibly do not even know his face. Nevertheless, many Georgians believe that the UNM is so much discredited as a political force that it doesn’t really matter whom the Georgian Dream would nominate as a candidate. Anyhow, neither Bakradze nor Margvelashvili oozes charisma. This is why some people believe that the road is open for Nino Burjanadze, a stern businesswoman with ladylike manners, who was one of the leaders of the Rose Revolution and turned against Saakashvili in 2008. Burjanadze, however, isn’t doing well in the public polls.
The relatively fair and competitive pre-election campaign has revealed immaturity of Georgian politicians. As none of the candidates (including the three discussed above) offer any programs – Georgians will have to choose, once again, basing on a personal appeal of each candidate. The habit of Georgian politicians to bet on personalities rather than policies is holding firm, though the personalities are not the strongest points in this round.
The Constitutional Amendments
As soon as the newly elected head of state takes the vow, new amendments to the Constitution will enter into force, weakening the presidential role. Some rights will go entirely to the Prime Minister and the government, while other will be shared between the two centers of power. Most importantly, the President will not have the ability to appoint and dismiss ministers and governors of the provinces, and will not direct and execute the country’s domestic and foreign policies.
[See the Feradi infographic below]
As the President’s powers are significantly reduced, it is possible that – if the candidate of Georgian Dream wins – the position will become a simple formality, especially considering the fact that Margvelashvili does not strike as a strong politician.
The Post-Election Boredom
Prime Minister Ivanishvili claims that he is quitting politics by the end of the year, however he refuses to name his successor. The current head of the government keeps the highly diverse group of politicians, named the Georgian Dream Coalition, under control. Many are worried what will happen after his leaves the post, though Ivanishvili himself doesn’t seem to share that fear. And perhaps right now he’s the only fearless person in Georgia.
Ivanishvili and Saakashvili – losing those two eccentrics could be a blow to Georgian politics, stripping away all its charming bizarreness. Thus, the voters should hold themselves together and think again: whom to vote for?