(UPDATE: text adds reactions from Georgian Dream and Christian-Democratic Movement to the election date in last four paragraphs)
Georgia will hold parliamentary elections on Monday, October 1, President Saakashvili’s spokesperson said on Wednesday.
According to the constitution elections should be held in October, but it was up to the President to set an exact date no later than two months before the voting day.
Setting of the election date marks formal launch of pre-election period, which means that whole set of legal obligations envisaged by the election code will now go into effect, among them restrictions on use of administrative resources, as well as ‘must-carry’ rules, obligating cable operators to transmit television channels with news programs before the election day.
“President Saakashvili has stressed for multiple times about government’s readiness to have free and fair parliamentary elections and to have open and transparent election campaign,” Georgian President’s spokesperson, Manana Manjgaladze, said on August 1.
“Today we want to express our confidence that these elections and campaign will be exemplary,” she said and listed some of the measures, which she said were undertaken to secure free and fair elections, among them inviting long-term international observers, verification of voters’ list, setting up of election-related inter-agency group at the National Security Council.
“The President is sure that the October elections will be another proof of maturity and vitality of Georgian democracy and that the major steps will be taken on the path of further strengthening of our statehood,” Manjgaladze said.
“The President of Georgia calls on all the citizens to take an active part in this process, which is so important for the development of our country,” she added.
Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, welcomed setting of the election date.
“We are very glad that elections will be held on October 1. It seems that Saakashvili is looking forward to losing elections and we are looking forward to winning elections,” Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for the Georgian Dream, said on August 1.
She said that the Georgian Dream formally launched its campaign on May 27 and it’s ready for elections on October 1. “Everything goes in accordance to our plan,” Panjikidze added.
MP Levan Vepkhvadze of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) has complained that setting of election date for October 1 would create certain inconvenience for majoritarian MP candidates running in Tbilisi single-mandate constituencies because they would have too little time for campaigning. He argued that many Tbilisites would be out of the city for summer holidays in August till mid-September and majoritarian MP candidates in the capital city would only have actually two weeks before the elections to carry out proper campaigning.