The days of waiting for Georgians are over. The date for the forthcoming parliamentary elections has now been set for 1st October, and the campaign which had already been under way unofficially for some time, has now started in full swing. 19 political parties have already been registered for the election, and a number of others are in the process of being so, but there is little doubt that this election is going to be primarily a two way race between the governing United National Movement of President Mikhail Saakashvili and the Georgian Dream coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili.
In the first large political event after the day of the elections was appointed, Ivanishvili addressed a large and enthusiastic crowd in the Black Sea port of Batumi on a wide range of issues. On social issues, he told the crowd, who stayed through the speech despite the rain, that,
“Promoting investments is very good, but it should not be happening at the expense of our citizens… We will change the labour code so that not a single employer will be able to infringe rights of an employee anymore. We will restore legal balance between an employer and an employee,”
Whilst the day to day campaign of the United National Movement is being fronted by the Parliamentary speaker, David Bakradze, President Saakashvili has been weighing in with public appearances in different parts of the country.
On 4th August President Saakashvili arrived in a small resort of Beshumi in the mountainous area of the Adjara Autonomous Republic, shortly after noon. An area close to the resort is a venue for two-day traditional festivity, Shuamtoba, held there annually. Addressing people gathered at the venue of the festivity, many of whom were wearing the ruling party’s t-shirts, President Saakashvili spoke, among other things, about “politicians of the past.” Civil.ge reporting the event said that “in his recent public speeches Saakashvili often mentions ‘politicians of the past’, who, he says, try to throw Georgia back into the past and although he never mentions anyone by name it is obvious that Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition are the targets of these remarks.” Many observers find Saakashvili’s line of attack somewhat baffling since of all the current front line Georgian politicians he is the only one to have served as Minister in President Shevardnadze’s government in the 1990s, and was even Shevardnadze’s campaign manager in the 2000 Presidential elections. At the time Ivanishvili was not even in Georgia let alone in Georgian politics.
Unperturbed, Saakashvili told his audience in his televised speech in Beshumi, that he would not “hand the country, built by me” over to “politicians of the past” and would not let them “destroy it,” according to civil.ge.
“Politicians of the past have always been looking at you. We want to tell those people, who now fumble into our rebuilding process with their mummified hands from the past, those who shamelessly state that there were better times in the past, those who tell from TV that new resorts blemish mountains and that new roads insult your authenticity, those who say that old corrupt officials should come back, those who say that old way of life should be returned and those who tell us that we should go back under the old imperial control because it is more comfortable there – we want to tell those people that there is no turning back for us; Georgia and Adjara will move only forward towards better future.”
In his Batumi speech Ivanishvili reacted to the President’s comments, saying:
“I do not know any other government of any country, which would dare to declare so publicly that it is not intending to go away and to willingly transfer power to the people. I do not know any other government capable to say it publicly, except of the Soviet one.”
Source: CEW staff team with civil.ge.