Three Opposition Parties Hold Final Press Conference Ahead of Polls

Tbilisi mayoral candidate Nika Melia of the United National Movement, Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) chairpersonship hopeful Elene Khoshtaria of Droa and Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom held a final press conference today with journalists from Georgia’s TV channels, ahead of the October 2 local polls.

In the more than a half an hour-long discussion, the opposition leaders took up the media questions and largely focused on their ambitions to “protect” the citizens’ votes on Election Day, to form a coalition government in 2022, as well as to address some of Georgia’s long-standing issues.

The three parties, together with the European Georgia have joined forces in Tbilisi, the capital, and are referring to the local polls as a “referendum” over holding snap parliamentary elections in 2022, as the EU-brokered April 19 agreement envisages snap polls the next year if GD fails to garner 43% of votes on October 2.

Snap elections in 2022, coalition government

Tbilisi mayoral hopeful Nika Melia asserted that the “Georgian people will defeat the Georgian Dream” on voting day. “Next year new parliamentary elections will be held and we, together with other opposition party leaders will form a coalition government,” he added. 

Noting that although Georgia has many problems, Melia argued the most “complex problem” can have an easy solution. In this case it is forming a coalition government and the people are ready for this change, the Tbilisi mayoral hopeful argued.

Japaridze, on his part, claimed that the ruling Georgian Dream party leaders have been convincing international partners in private conversations that they will stick to holding snap elections if they fail to receive 43% of votes, despite having quit the deal.

“This is not an obsession of opposition parties,” he said, arguing the provision of the early election was largely meant as a “test of legitimacy” after key ruling party figures departed in 2021 – then-GD chair Bidzina Ivanishvili, who quit politics, and then-PM Giorgi Gakharia, who the party and founded his own. 

Acknowledging that the opposition “fell out of the habit of” talking about what needs to be done in the country, Khoshtaria said that a coalition government “is necessary to begin building the country and taking care of people in poverty, the youth, IDPs, infrastructure and the economy.”

“Protecting” citizens’ votes

The Droa party leader said the key guarantee to avoid possible election fraud woulb be that there are “a lot of people at polling stations” on October 2. “It does not matter who you are voting for,” said Khoshtaria, calling on all citizens to vote.

Japaridze said that besides the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, there are several organizations working on parallel vote tabulation this year, adding that the opposition will also coordinate closely with its Precinct Commission Members to ensure oversight of the election process.

“We are trying to be as coordinated as possible,” he noted, highlighting that the opposition is more ready to “protect the votes” this year than in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

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