The race is on for the office of President of Georgia after the governing Georgian Dream coalition led by Bidhzina Ivanishvili announced that it will nominate Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Giorgi Margvelashvili to the post. Given the massive victory that Georgian Dream registered in last October’s parliamentary elections and its continued popularity in recent opinion polls, Margvelashvili starts the race as the favourite to win.
The office of President of Georgia will be divested from most of its powers after the October elections following constitutional amendments that the previous government of Mikhail Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) pushed through before its election defeat. Executive power will now be vested in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The UNM still has to nominate its candidate for the elections, and has announced that it will do primaries to select its candidate. A number of other Georgian personalities are considering contesting as independent candidates.
Georgians have traditionally looked for “a man on the white horse” to lead them. Georgian history is full of imagery of Georgian leaders, usually men, and on one or two occasions also women, riding into battle on horseback, often slaying a dragon. This time round the situation is rather confusing since the first person in the country will not be the one with the effective power. More…
Giorgi Baramidze, the Vice Speaker of the Georgian Parliament and close associate of the current Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told participants at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Tbilisi on 30 April that he will participate in American style primary elections that will select the candidate of the United National Movement for the forthcoming Presidential elections scheduled to be held in Georgia in October.
Baramidze thus became the first prominent politician to announce that he will participate in the election process.
The ruling Georgian Dream Coalition is expected to announce its candidate for the election in May.
The Armenian opposition activists that rallied around defeated presidential candidate Raffi Hovannesian in the aftermath of the 18 February Presidential elections have been faced with a common dilemma – their protests are large, but not as yet large enough to force the government’s hand. In political events in the South Caucasus this has proved a critical factor before. More…
Raffi Hovhannessian was the only mainstream Armenian opposition politician who at the end of last year decided to throw his hat into the election ring. He conducted a campaign that verged on the surreal – avoiding controversy, shaking hands, talking of serenity and unity. Some said that fools rush in where angels fear to tread; others accused him of legitimising with his candidature a flawed process; others dismissed him as irrelevant. He could have been any of these three things, or even all of them, but in any case it now does not matter. Whether the 539,691 Armenians who voted for him did so because they liked him or his programme, or because they were voting against the incumbent, we will never quite know. The issue now is not the election (if it ever was) but the political process, and Hovhanessian has emerged much stronger than any of the other opposition political leaders to play the leading role. After the election results were announced he was smart enough to understand that this was Raffi’s moment and he grabbed it with both hands, leaving both the government and the other opposition leaders confused and disorientated. More…
Unofficial results in the Armenian Elections show a victory for the incumbent Serzh Sargsyan, with around 59% of the votes cast. Raffi Hovhanessian is runner up with around 37%
The 6th presidential Election of independent Armenia was held on Monday 18th February 2013. There was never any doubt who was going to win this election, but candidates, voters, election officials, journalists and observers – local and international, went through the necessary motions to conduct what technically was a good election ritual. A few of the seven candidates did not play the game according to the established rules and there was, a still unexplained, attempt on the life of another. One of the original eight candidates registered pulled out completely. The process was calm, peaceful, efficient and largely transparent. But while we always knew who the winner of this election was going to be, the question of who were going to be the losers was not always that clear. More…
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian led a chorus of criticism against views expressed by diplomats from EU member states ahead of the presidential elections. The diplomats, namely British Ambassador Katharine Leach and Polish Ambassador Zdzisław Raczyski’s had made mild criticisms and expressed hope for free and fair elections. Pro government politicians lined up to criticise the two Ambassadors and accusing them of interfering in internal affairs. The Foreign Minister then weighed in suggesting that the two Ambassadors had crossed the boundaries of diplomatic practise, with Nalbandian citing his experience as long time Armenian Ambassador to France to show how diplomacy should be done. Diplomatic circles in Yerevan are surprised by the audacity of this criticism given that Armenian diplomats in France, the United States and other countries are often involved in supporting candidates who are sympathetic to pro Armenian issues in the countries they are accredited to, whilst the Polish and British diplomats in Tbilisi were simply making comments about how the democratic process could be consolidated. More…
The OSCE/ODIHR Election Monitoring Mission issued an interim report on 7 February in which it described the first two weeks of the presidential Election Campaign in Armenia as “low-key and of limited visibility”. The Mission has strived to go through the motions of monitoring the campaign despite the somewhat bizarre circumstances that have surrounded this election.
One of the eight candidates in the election formally withdrew from the race on 8 February. The Central Elections Commission duly accepted his withdrawal and cancelled his candidature. Aram Harutyunyan call for the other six candidates challenging incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan to withdraw from the race has so far been unheeded. Another Presidential candidate Andreas Ghukasyan has been on hunger strike since the campaign started on 21 January. Speaking to journalists two weeks later Ghukasyan lambasted the OSCE/ODIHR Election Mission which he said was there to legitimise a fraudulent election. He accused the mission of misleading the Armenian people and called on them to pack up their bags and leave. More…
One of the candidates in the Armenian presidential elections formally withdrew from the race on 8 February. The Central Elections Commission duly accepted his withdrawal and cancelled his candidature. Aram Harutyunyan call for the other six candidates challenging incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan to withdraw from the race has not so far been heeded.
However the situation is far from usual. One other Presidential contender Andreas Ghukasyan has been on hunger strike since the election campaign formally kicked off. Attempts to get him to stop the hunger strike have so far failed. Ghukasyan is protesting against the electoral process which he says is flawed and is asking the Central Elections Commission to bar Sargsyan from the poll.
A third presidential candidate, Pruyur Hayrikyan is in hospital recovering from an assissantation attempt on him a week ago. His medical situation was reported to have deteriorated in the last days and he has been asked by doctors not to leave the hospital bed despite successful surgery on him on Saturday. The Armenian Ministry of National Security has reported that it has arrested two suspects in connection with the assassination attempt. More…
President Serzh Sargsyan visiting Paruyr Hayrikyan in hospital on 2 February 2013.
On Friday evening, 1 February a gunmen shot and wounded Armenian Presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan casting a shadow on what had so far been a lacklustre election campaign. Hayrikyan is not one of the front runners in the campaign, but is a respected and recognised figure in Armenian society. He was a dissident in Soviet times and served time in prison for his political views. Hayrikyan was operated on the following day and a bullet removed from his shoulder and is now recovering satisfactorily.
The assassination attempt however reminded Armenians of the level of violence in their political life in recent years. In October 1999 several senior members of the Armenian government were killed in cold blood in an incident inside the Armenian Parliament. They included the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament. In 2008 eleven people died in incidents on the streets of Yerevan as protestors questioned the results of the last Presidential election which brought the current incumbent Serzh Sargsyan to power. Such violence in a country of such a small size and which is monoethnic is unprecedented and has left the Armenian body politic scarred. Big questions remain around both the 1999 incident in the Armenian parliament and the 2008 street protests, and the assassination attempt against Hayrikyan is likely to be added to the list adding to speculation of sinister forces at work. More…
Paruyr Hayrikyan, one of the eight candidates in the forthcoming Presidential election in Armenia was shot and wounded this evening in the centre of Yerevan. Armenian media is reporting that the incident took place around midnight Yerevan time. The candidate was taken to a nearby hospital and is reported to be in intensive care. Early reports say that his condition is serious.
No information is yet available regarding the circumstances of the shooting.
Whilst Hayrikyan is not a serious contender for the Presidency he is a well known public personality having been a dissident in Soviet times.
source: CEW with Armenian media
Presidential candidate starts his campaign with a hunger strike.
With less than four weeks left before the Presidential Election in Armenia on February 18th the credibility of the whole process remains in the balance as an unusual situation develops with several of the eight candidates refusing to campaign, or announcing their withdrawal.
This election from the start did not look as if it was going to proceed according to normal practices. A number of leading contenders and key political forces declared their non-participation some time ago. Some hoped that this will open the way for new faces. But those that emerged do not seem to be playing by the traditional rules. More…
Young protesters being detained by police following
an unsanctioned protest in the centre of Baku on 20
October. The government is hoping that stiffer penalties
will make potential protestors think twice. (Picture courtesy of Youth Media Centre, Baku).
Following the “unauthorized actions” held in Baku on 20 October, lawmakers in Azerbaijan are contemplating tougher penalties which they claim will encourage a greater sense of responsibility by activists and protect human rights.
The parliamentary committees for “Legal Policy and State building”, and “Human Rights” held a joint session on Tuesday, 23 October, to discuss amending the legislation surrounding freedom of assembly in the country. Members of Parliament are concerned that these so-called “unauthorised actions” have been on the rise in recent years in Azerbaijan, and have a negative impact on Azerbaijan’s international image. This trend, the lawmakers argue, is likely a result of the fact that the penalties just are not a big enough deterrent for protesters. More…
A protesteor being
detained by police in
Baku at an unauthorised
rally on Fountain Square
on 20 October 2012.
Photo courtesy of
Approximately fifty activists are thought to have been arrested and detained following an anti-corruption protest organised in Fountain Square in down town Baku on Saturday 20, October.
The protest, which was organised by opposition political parties and youth groups, began at 15:00 on Saturday and lasted for two hours, according to a post on the “Azerbaijan Agenda” Facebook. The demonstrators were calling for the dissolution of parliament following the release of a video at the end of September showing a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament demanding a $1.3 million bribe from a former university rector in exchange for a seat in parliament. More…
Isa Gambar, Leader of Musavat Party in Azerbaijan. Some say he won the election in 2003.
With Azerbaijan’s 2013 Presidential elections around the corner, political activists in the country are beginning to question the tactics and plans not of the government but of the opposition. For many political activists, the government’s plan is well known, and given its track record a transparent and fair transfer of power seems highly unlikely. Karina Gould follows the debate and reports for CEW. More…
Amidst all the controversy surrounding the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia it is sometimes easy to forget the issues at stake, and what the parties stand for. Marion Kipiani has been going through the election programmes of four major Georgian political parties to compare their positions on a range of issues
In the latest issue of Caucasus Elections Watch she summarises the position of the United National Movement, Georgian Dream, the Christian Democratic Movement and the New Rights Party on issues ranging from Education and health care to the country’s territorial integrity.
President Saakashvili at a UNM rally in Tbilisi on 8 September
Thousands of Georgians took to the streets of the main cities of the country over the last weekend in support of the two main political forces contesting the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. More…
Fifteen political parties and two blocs have been registered to contest the parliamentary elections in Georgia on 1 October. They have now also submitted their list of candidates to the Central Elections Commission.
I8 parties who started the process of registration have not been registered. According to the Central Elections Commission of Georgia six withdrew at their own request, six did not submit a list of supporters as they are required to do by law, and six submitted incomplete or inaccurate documentation. None of those refused registration constitute a major political force and the CEC is deemed to have acted according to the law with regards to the registration process.
A question often asked by those who do not follow Georgian politics often is who are all these people? Why do many of these parties appear only during election time? More…