Opposition Agree on ‘Defending Each Other’s Votes’ for October Elections

On August 24, Georgian opposition parties have signed an agreement “On Protecting Each Other’s Votes” for the upcoming October parliamentary elections.

A group of up to 30 signatories includes former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement, European Georgia, Strategy Agmashenebeli of Giorgi Vashadze, Lelo for Georgia of TBC’s Khazaradze, right-libertarian Girchi party, Republican Party, Labor Party and former Speaker Nino Burjanadze’s United Georgia – Democratic Movement.

The parties argue in the text, that Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairperson an patron of the rulin Georgian Dream party, has mobilized large parts of financial and administrative resources to ensuire it success in the upcoming elections, which enhances the importance of the coordinated action by opposition parties to ”protect every vote” and prevent the possible fraud.

“Democratic opposition of Georgia agrees that Ivanishivili’s oligarchic governance poses the gravest challenge to the country and its democratic development,” reads the joint statement, adding that a peaceful transition of power is the only right path towards building a western-style democracy.

Common objectives mentioned in the joint statement include “ensuring transparency for the entire electoral process and protecting the choice of every citizen”.

The parties agreed to establish concrete cooperation mechanisms to achieve these objectives and to jointly work with international observers to ensure the  legitimacy of the elections.

The memorandum of understanding also foresees the parties to coordinate their activities in every electoral district, including in the constituencies with more than one opposition candidate running.

“By defeating Ivanishvili in 2020 parliamentary elections, malign practices of electoral manipulations in Georgia have to come to an end,” the political parties agree.

As for the specific steps, the parties have already agreed to establish a joint bureau for vote protection.  The bureau will be chaired by opposition politician Paata Davitaia, and it will be charged with two immediate tasks: to create an inter-party database to record every violation on the elections’ day; and to establish a joint action and coordination mechanism for parties to respond to registered violations.

MP Tinatin Bokuchava (UNM) hailed the strategic importance of the agreement, noting that today’s event has proven that “a lot more thing unites rather than divides the opposition.”

MP Bokuchava also spoke of drafting a document “which will make it clear that none of the opposition parties are going to form a governing coalition with [Georgian Dream party and] Bidzina Ivanishvili”

Davit Bakradze of European Georgia similarly underscored the unifying power of the agreement.

Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labor Party, highlighted the historical significance of the agreement, noting that this is “the first time in the modern European history that various opposing parties adopted a declaration on joint protection of votes.”

First Deputy Speaker Gia Volski from the ruling Georgian Dream party called dubbed the agreement as “an attempt of destruction” and recalled that signatory parties had smeared each other in the past.

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