Five top figures quit Free Democrats opposition party

  • The four are among those who quit the Free Democrats party today. Photo by Free Democrats press office., 12 Oct 2016 - 16:01, Tbilisi,Georgia

Five top figures of Free Democrats (FD) opposition party have quit the party.

The five political figureheads announced the news today but did not specify their future intentions or activities. 

The Free Democrats key people who stepped down today are:

  • Zurab Abashidze
  • David Onoprishvili
  • Irakli Chikovani
  • Viktor Dolidze 
  • Giorgi Tsagareishvili 

Their resignation comes two days after party chairman and Georgia's former Defence Minister Irakli Alasania and another party member, Georgia's ex-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili, quit the party

All of the statements made by outgoing Free Democrats party members noted their decisions to leave the party was related to the party's failure to gain enough support and votes to overcome the five percent threshold in the October 8 Parliamentary Elections in proportional voting.  

Preliminary results from Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) showed Free Democrats received 4.61 percent of votes. The party still had a chance to gain one seat in Parliament as one Free Democrats candidate was due to participate in the second round of majoritarian voting in Chiatura region in the country's west. 

When outgoing party member Zurab Abashidze addressed the public and announced the news, he thanked those who voted for Free Democrats. He also thanked those who didn't vote for the party but believed Free Democrats' entry in Parliament would be positive for Georgian democracy. 

[By departing] we are opening the way to new people in the party who, with their enthusiasm and motivation, will advance and develop the party,” Abashidze said. 

Dolidze, another outgoing member, accepted the election results and stressed the elections expressed the "will of the Georgian people”. 

It was a free decision made by free voters and we should respect the voters’ choice,” Dolidze said. 

Irakli Alasania established Free Democrats party in 2009. Photo by Free Democrats' press office. 

For the next two months Dolidze would continue his duties as head of Georgia’s delegation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and would continue fighting to prove the innocence of the Cable Case convicts. 

Outgoing members Onoprishvili and Tsagareishvili said they had always stood by Georgia's interests and would continue their activities in service of Georgia. 

The final outgoing Free Democrats member, Chikovani, said the elections showed the Free Democrats party "needed to be revived”. 

More about the people who quit the FD today: 

  • Viktor Dolidze #2 in the Free Democrats party list  for the October 8 Parliamentary Elections. He is a qualified lawyer. His previous activities include being a member of Tbilisi City Council (2010-2012), a Resident Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2005 - 2009), Director of the Department of Staff of the National Security Council (2004 - 2005), Adviser, Board chairman and Second Secretary, Attaché of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1996 - 2004).
  • Zurab Abashidze #4 in the Free Democrats party list. He is a qualified lawyer. His previous activities include Deputy Chairman of Tbilisi City Council (2010-2012), Minister of Emergency Assignments (2006-2007), various top positions in the Ministry of Justice (2004-2005)
  • Irakli Chikovani #5 in the party list. He is also a qualified lawyer. He served as Director of the Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2005 - 2009), Director of the Department of Staff of the National Security Council (2004 - 2005), Head of Division, Legal Consultant of the Ministry of Defence (2001 - 2004)
  • Giorgi Tsagareishvili #10 in the Free Democrats party list. He is a qualified lawyer and his previous activities relate to the law and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.
  • David Onoprishvili #12 in the party list. He is a geographer and economist. He served as Director General of Georgian Railway (2004 - 2005), Associated Professor of Vanderbilt University, USA (2003 - 2004), Minister of Finance (1998 - 2000) and Consultant to the World Bank (1994 - 1995).

Meanwhile the remaining members of Free Democrats said they would continue their political fight and prepare for the 2017 local elections.  

Free Democrats was part of the Georgian Dream coalition, founded by ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivansihvili prior to 2012 Parliamentary Elections, to defeat the nine-year rule of the United National Movement. 

Free Democrats quit the coalition in 2014 when Alasania was dismissed as Defence Minister and moved into the  parliamentary opposition. The party participated separately in this year’s Parliamentary Elections.