Former Georgian political opponents unite for parliamentary by-elections, name joint candidate

Shalva Shavgulidze (L), one of the leaders of the Free Democrats party, will run in Mtatsminda by-elections for the Free Democrats–European Georgia bloc. Photo: 1TV., 21 Mar 2019 - 14:17, Tbilisi,Georgia

Opposition European Georgia and Free Democrats parties, whose members once strongly opposed one another, have created an election bloc for the May 19 parliamentary by-elections and nominated one of the leaders of the Free Democrats, Shalva Shavgulidze, as a joint candidate for the Mtatsminda district MP seat.

 Secretary General of the European Georgia parliamentary opposition Gigi Ugulava acknowledged that the two parties do not have a common past, but now they share common values and a vision of the future.

I believe that Shavgulidze will be the first [example] of the opposition’s unity”, Ugulava said.

The Free Democrats say that hatred will bring no results and claim their cooperation with the European Georgia is “strategic and long lasting.”

Shavgulidze says that the “authoritarian governance of the country” [by the founder of the Georgian Dream ruling party Bidzina Ivanishvili] must be ended and genuine steps must be taken for the rule of law and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO.

We have a plan for state development and a concrete agenda for this,” Shavgulidze says.

The seat in parliament became vacant after the election of Salome Zurabishvili to the presidency of Georgia at the end of the last year.

  • Free Democrats were members of the Georgian Dream coalition created by Ivanishvili for the 2012 parliamentary elections to defeat the nine-year rule of the United National Movement.
  • Free Democrats were the first which left the coalition in 2014 when their leader Irakli Alasania was dismissed as defence minister.
  • The European Georgia is composed of many United National Movement members who quit the UNM after the 2016 parliamentary elections as their view regarding the future of the party differed from that of of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, the party founder.