Bakradze Admits Defeat, Pledges Support to Vashadze

Davit Bakradze, presidential candidate of the European Georgia, admitted defeat in the presidential elections and pledged to support the UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze in the second round runoffs.

Bakradze announced the decision shortly after the release of the European Georgia-commissioned exit poll, which placed Grigol Vashadze ahead of the ruling party-endorsed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili.

“Our survey confirms that there is a high likelihood for a second round runoff and that the opposition has a real chance of winning the runoff race,” Bakradze said.

The candidate then referred to the EPP-facilitated cooperation agreement. He stressed despite “fundamental differences” between the two parties, the European Georgia will continue fulfilling the agreement.

“Therefore, if elections enter into runoffs and Vashadze makes it into the second round, we will support him and call on our voters to support his candidacy,” Bakradze stated.

The parties signed a deal on July 10 in the headquarters of the European People’s Party, agreeing to back each other’s candidates if one of them makes it into the second round of the upcoming presidential polls, as well as not to attack each other during the pre-election campaign.

Grigol Vashadze hailed the decision in a press conference shortly after the exit poll results, saying this was an expression of “high political culture.”  “I would like to convey my gratitude to Davit Bakradze,” he added.

Asked how the two will cooperate, Bakradze said it was too early to speak on technical details.

Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been actively campaigning for Vashadze through Facebook and his media appearances, welcomed the decision as well. Saakashvili said this was an “extremely courageous act.”

“This means that there is no chance the opposition will be defeated,” the former President noted, adding that he hoped Labor Party’s Shalva Natelashvili will follow suit. “I really hope this will happen and many more votes will be added [to Grigol Vashadze],” he said.

The European Georgia split from the United National Movement in early 2017, following months of intra-party dispute. The two participated separately in the municipal polls in October 2017, with UNM and EG garnering 17% and 10% of votes, respectively.

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