Georgia's Election and its Impact on the Region
As Georgia prepared to vote in the October 27 presidential election that will bring Mikheil Saakashvili’s term as head of state to a close after nearly a decade, an IWPR discussion event brought together political commentators from that country and its neighbour Armenia to discuss the wider ramifications of the polls.
As Kakha Gogolashvili of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies noted at the October 8 event, there are many candidates, but three front-runners stand out – Giorgi Margvelashvili, nominated by the Georgian Dream coalition that came to power a year ago, David Bakradze of the United National Movement, Saakashvili’s party now in opposition, and former speaker Nino Burjanadze.
Recent constitutional changes mean that many of the next president’s powers will be transferred to the prime minister. The current prime minister, Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, has said he will step down and leave politics altogether if Margvelashvili wins.
Gogolashvili took part in the discussion via a video link from Tbilisi, as did Elene Khoshtaria of Georgia's Reforms Associates.
The speakers in Yerevan were Stepan Grigoryan, director of the Centre for Globalisation and Regional Cooperation in Yerevan, and Johnny Melikyan, an expert on Georgian affairs and head of the Centre for Political and Legal Studies, who also acted as moderator.