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Ivanishvili Signals Need for Single Opposition Candidates in Majoritarian MP Race
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Feb.'12 / 15:17

In order not to split an overall opposition vote in majoritarian single-mandate constituencies, billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili said his coalition was ready to agree on single majoritarian MP candidates with other opposition parties during the parliamentary elections this October.

In a newspaper interview this week Ivanishvili, however, also said that cooperation on single majoritarian candidates would only be possible with those parties, which, as he put it, “do not cause suspicion of cooperating with the authorities” and whose views on “key issues” were not in conflict with those of his coalition.

In October, when Ivanishvili first announced about his political plans, he listed several parties with whom he was not going to cooperate, accusing them of being “pseudo-opposition” and “covertly cooperating with the authorities”; in particular, among others, he named: Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM); New Rights Party and Labor Party.

In the next Parliament 73 seats will go to majoritarian MPs elected in 73 single-mandate constituencies and rest 77 seats will be allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties and election blocs, which will clear 5% threshold.

Under this system, wherein a majoritarian MP is elected through winner-takes-all rule (but a candidate should garner at least 30% of votes), the ruling party endorsed its candidates in 71 out of 75 single-mandate constituencies, that existed during the 2008 parliamentary elections. At the time opposition candidates won the race in the Tbilisi’s two constituencies (both won by the New Rights Party candidates), as well as in Tsageri (where the ruling party had no candidate) and Kazbegi constituencies. 

Unlike previous elections in 2008, in the upcoming polls independent candidates will also be eligible to run. Although the new election code imposes requirement for independent candidates to post GEL 5,000, which they will only be able to retrieve if they garner at least 10% of vote, the number of contestants in the majoritarian MP race is likely to increase number of candidates that will further split votes.

In the interview with the Georgian tabloid, Asaval-Dasavali, Ivanishvili also said that cooperation was not possible with ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze’s party citing conflict of views on key issues. Ivanishvili said, that Burjanadze was in favor of change of government through street protest rallies, that was unacceptable for him. Ivanishvili also said that another difference was about foreign policy, claiming that Burjanadze “does not share” his pro-Western position.

In the same interview Ivanishvili said that his coalition would resort to street protest rallies only in case of large-scale ballot fraud. He said that rigging of “some five per cent” of votes was not ruled out, but stealing of twenty or thirty per cent of votes would force his coalition to call his supporters to defend votes through street protest rallies.

“In such case, yes, we will stand in the streets and we will defend our votes with all the legal means,” Ivanishvili said, adding that neither the U.S. nor EU would support election results in case of large-scale ballot fraud.

Ivanishvili also said that he was still sure that his coalition, uniting three parties plus his planned party, would win two-third of seats in the next parliament, adding that the ruling party winning majority of votes was “absolutely ruled out”.

“Speaking about their victory in the upcoming elections is a waste of time,” Ivanishvili said. “If he had any normal advisor, he would have advised Saakashvili that sooner he files for resignation, the better for him.”

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