Alliance for Georgia seems it managed to smooth out differences, which were made public on February 17 after its key figures voiced conflicting opinions about with whom it was possible to cooperate over selecting a single opposition mayoral candidate in the May local elections.
“As far as [ex-PM Zurab] Nogaideli’s party is concerned, our position [within the Alliance for Georgia] is absolutely identical,” Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) and of the Alliance for Georgia, said on February 18.
“Differences – ideological and in respect of foreign policy – are so huge with Nogaideli’s party that we won’t be able to have any political alliance or agreement with his party,” Alasania added.
The remark signaled reversal from OGFD’s initial position on the issue, expressed on February 17. After two parties within the Alliance – New Rights and Republicans – said that they were ready to cooperate with “all the real opposition parties” on selecting a single mayoral candidate, except of ex-PM Nogaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia, a senior figure from OGFD, Zurab Abashidze, said that the party was in favor of cooperating with “everyone” including with Nogaideli.
Sozar Subari, ex-public defender and a member of Alliance for Georgia, also said on February 18: “Alliance won’t be able to cooperate on any issue with a party, which says that the Georgian territories have not been occupied by Russia. Personally I will not cooperate with such party and the position of the Alliance is unanimous on the matter.”
The Alliance for Georgia’s call for leaving Nogaideli’s party out of the process was mainly addressed to Party of People and Conservative Party – two opposition groups cooperating with Nogaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia for organizing preliminary elections, or so called primaries to select a single opposition candidate – an idea which was largely ignored by most of the parties.
The both Conservative Party and Party of People, however, turned down the proposal and said that they would remain committed to partnership with the Movement for Fair Georgia.
Initial differences over the matter overshadowed to some extent a key aspect of the announcement by the Alliance for Georgia concerning its readiness to engage in talks with others to achieve a broad agreement for selecting a single mayoral candidate for the Tbilisi mayoral race.
While initially the Alliance for Georgia was firmly insisting that its leader Irakli Alasania was the only opposition candidate capable to challenge incumbent Tbilisi mayor, Gigi Ugulava, who is expected to be the ruling party’s candidate, now leaders of the Alliance indicate that they are ready to listen and consider other options for selecting a single opposition candidate.
“When we say that we are ready to sit down at a negotiating table with everyone, minus one [Nogaideli’s party], to launch talks from blank page, it means that we are ready to discuss all the possible options,” Sozar Subari said.
Subari, who is Alasania’s running mate eyeing the Tbilisi City Council chairmanship, also added that Alasania’s or his withdrawal from the race is not on the agenda.
“Unity of the opposition is possible. I want to reiterate that I stand firm on this position. We will be able to reach an agreement with other opposition forces on the process through which a single candidate will be selected,” Alasania said on February 18.