Business-free Elections
24 October, 2013
Business-free Elections
Although the economic programs of candidates running for presidency in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled by the end of this October are as shallow and slogan-like as it has become traditional in the short history of Georgian elections, still this presidential elections has something unprecedented: for the first time in many years, the ruling party is not extorting money from business to fund its election campaign.
Intimidation of business to compel it to f
inance presidential and parliamentary or local elections in favor of now ex-ruling United National Movement Party very likely belongs to the past.
This time nobody reports of any kind of governmental pressure and only political disputes and still incompetently drafted economic programs of candidates is a major trouble to the voters. Nevertheless, it is the ruling political coalition Georgian Dream, backed by billionaire Prime Minster Bidzina Ivanishvili that secured the biggest party financing amounting to some GEL 4 million based on donations of seven months this year, as the State Audit papers report. Giorgi Margvelashvili, a former education minister is the presidential candidate of Georgian Dream. Democratic Movement-United Georgia, supporting Nino Burjanadze’s candidacy, collected GEL 860 137 or six-time more than GEL 140 thousand scraped by National Movement that supports Davit Bakradze, the former Head of Parliament and running for presidency now. Donors obviously preferred Burjanadze to Bakradze this time.
These three are discussed as the major competitors hopeful for presidency this election. However how much each party will spend on elections campaign exactly will be clear in details post-election, in compliance with Georgian law, but based on the available statistics it apparently will be far below GEL 23 million the National Movement used to collect for the preceding snap presidential elections in January of 2008 when it received 53% votes. For some reasons, out of seven candidates of the snap election only Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia since 2004 up to date who was a candidate of National Movement, succeeded to channel GEL 23 million for his presidential campaign that was almost four times the sum (GEL 6.8 million) collected by Levan Gachechiladze, the key competitor to Saakashvili in that snap election and leader of the civil unrest that raged in November 2007 and that pitted protestations against the undemocratic regime of the-then ruling National Movement, forcing Saakashvili to resign and give way to the snap presidential elections. At that time all the other candidates spent significantly modest sums compared to the previous two. Force and intimidation did its best then and Saakashvili won.
This time the presidential elections learn the lessons of peace. Some sector pundits presume this is because the Prime Minister not the President will have bigger economic power in Georgia thanks to recent changes in constitution.
Irakli Lekvinadze, an economic analyst thinks the economic programs of the candidates are pretty superficial and on the level of slogans as it has always been in fact. But the one factor that all respondents surveyed by Georgian Journal admit is that they expect no serious negative impact on Georgian economy as a result of the election although they underline that as always business operates in a relatively suspended regime expecting the end of election.
“Time is money and of course we lose something while we are waiting but there are no unreasonable outlays and pressure, I have not heard anything like that and business will become more active after elections are over,” said Giorgi Kodua, Head of Amalgamation of Civil Aviation Professionals of Georgia and Consultant of Air Caucasus.

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