POLITICS
Second round of presidential elections in Georgia
28 November, 2018
Georgians head to the polls for a runoff election for president. The first round was held on the 28th of October, but none of the candidates managed get the number of necessary votes to win. There were only thin difference between the major presidential candidates – Salome Zurabishvili and Grigol Vashadze.

Salome Zurabishvili received 38.7 percent of the votes, while Grigol Vashadze received 37.7 percent.

Why the second round for presidential elections matter?


There is a huge antipathy towards both of
the candidates in the Georgian society and there are number of reasons for that.

Grigol Vashadze is a candidate for the main Georgian opposition party United National Movement. This was a governing party from 2003 to 2012. While there were positive changes in the country during their governance, the negative side outweighed the positive one.
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Independent candidate Salome Zurabishvili endorsed by the ruling Georgian Dream Party

Turning point was events that took place on the 7th of November 2007.

Read more: Welcome to the presidential election circus in Georgia

In 2007, a series of anti-government protests took place across Georgia. The demonstrations peaked on 2 November 2007, when 50,000–100,000 rallied in downtown Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. People protested against the allegedly corrupt government of president Mikheil Saakashvili. Protests triggered by detention of Georgian politician Irakli Okruashvili on charges of extortion, money laundering, and abuse of office during his tenure as defense minister of the country were organized by the National Council, an ad-hoc coalition of ten opposition parties, and financed by the media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. Demonstrations occurred both in September and November 2007 and were initially largely peaceful. The protests went downhill by 6 November 2007, but turned violent the next day when the police, using heavy-handed tactics, including tear gas and water cannon, unblocked Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi's main boulevard, dislodged the protesters from the territory adjoining to the House of Parliament, and prevented the demonstrators from resuming the protests. The government accused the Russian secret services of being involved in an attempted coup d'état and declared a nationwide state of emergency later that day which lasted until late 16 November 2007.
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Grigol Vashadze, presidential candidate from the United National Movement

It is said to have been the worst political crisis in Georgia since the Rose Revolution in 2003.
After this events dissatisfaction towards the governing party UNM was growing and resulted in the change of the government.

In 2012 Georgian Dream Party created and funded by the richest person in Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili won parliamentary elections. But despite promises problems still remained.

There was huge dissatisfaction towards the appointed top level officials, like then Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, then Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania. Elite Corruption still remained as a problem and there was done too little to fight against that.
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Picture of Chairman of the Georgian Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze placed on Salome Zurabishvili's banner

Read more: The 15th Anniversary of Georgia’s Rose Revolution

There is also a growing negative attitude towards Bidzina Ivanishvili. The crucial role in that played endorsement of Salome Zurabishvili by him and the ruling Georgian Dream Party. We may assume that the majority of Georgians will vote for Zurabishvili but not because of sympathy towards her, but because of fear of Grigol Vashadze, the candidate from UNM.

Grigol Vashadze has announced that he would pardon ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili should he be elected as president. This is completely unacceptable for the majority of the Georgian society. They fear that this would trigger new demonstrations and that UNM may take to the streets and try to overthrow the government.
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Banners of Salome Zurabishvili and a picture of Bidzina Ivanishvili side by side

What if both of the candidates receive same number of votes?


Even though that there is a tiny chance that both of the candidates receive same number of votes, this does not mean that “Third Round” of elections will be appointed. If this happens, wins the candidate who received the majority of votes in the first round of elections.

Clash of the titans – Bidzina Ivanishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili


Even though these two do not run for presidential post, it is considered that a runoff election for president is a major clash between ex-prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. Both of them had actively been advocating for candidates favorable to them – Salome Zurabishvili and Grigol Vashadze.

Read more: Funny incidents on Election Day in Georgia

Mikheil Saakashvili has actively been using social networks to support Grigol Vashadze and urge citizens to vote for him. He used to use Facebook for that. Thousands watched his Facebook lives and video statements.

Well, Bidzina Ivanishvili did not use Facebook lives but he placed his picture on a presidential banners of Salome Zurabishvili. Not only his, but Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze’s and Chairman of the parliament Irakli Kobakhidze’s pictures were also placed on the banners of Salome Zurabishvili.
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Some people added earrings on pictures of Bidzina Ivanishvili and Irakli Kobakhidze to mock their appearence
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