As campaigning swings into full gear, the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), places itself at the mercy of the public, as incumbent President Saakashvili describes the upcoming parliamentary elections as a referendum on the government. Speaking at a campaign stop in the region of Imereti on Tuesday 14 August, President Saakashvili called the 2012 Parliamentary Elections “a Moment of Truth.” “Each of us should ask ourselves one very simple question – it’s a moment of truth – Is Georgia now a better country than it was eight years ago?” Saakashvili told villagers of the Terjona and Zestaponi municipalities in Imereti region. “If the answer is positive,” he continued, “and if we want to have [an] even better country, we should all stand together – that’s our offer.”
On the same day, at a different campaign stop in Imereti region, the President told supporters that this election would be a referendum on the government. Just as the 2003 parliamentary elections, which were followed by the Rose Revolution, were “a referendum [on] Shevardnadze’s eleven-year rule,” the “2012 election,” said Saakashvili, “is a referendum for the government, which came into power after the Rose Revolution.” “If we want our country to be even better we should vote for continuation of the course, which turned Georgia into a better country,” Saakashvili implored.
This theme has recurred in a number of speeches of other UNM leaders. Introducing the candidates for the Tbilisi constituencies for the UNM, the Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, asked, “Is Georgia [a] better country than it was eight years ago? Is Tbilisi a better city than it was eight years ago? Is the life of our citizens better now, regardless of remaining problems, than it was eight years ago?” Ugulava concluded that there are a large majority of Georgians who would answer positively to the above question. In a jab at the opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, Ugulava continued that “It means that our citizens do not want to go back into the past; our citizens do not want to dream about the past.” On August 15, Saakashvili stopped in Rustavi, naming Mamuka Chikovani, Deputy Governor of the Kvemo Kartli region and former mayor of Rustavi, as the UNM majoritarian candidate for Rustavi. While in Rustavi, the President took part in a ceremony initiating construction on a highway that will link Rustavi with the capital. Alluding to his party’s plans if re-elected, he said “We are going to build Georgia for many years to come.”
source: compiled by Karina Gould with reports from georgian media.