TBILISI, DFWatch–The largest opposition party in Georgia, the United National Movement, on Friday nominated party chairman Nika Melia as its candidate for Tbilisi Mayor in the local elections in October.
But Melia has so far failed to secure broad opposition support behind his candidacy as he tries to unseat the incumbent mayor, Georgian Dream frontman Kakha Kaladze. Most opposition parties refuse to support Melia.
Melia, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014, achieved the best result of any opposition candidate in the 2020 parliamentary elections and won first place with 44% of the vote in the first round of elections in Gldani, Tbilisi’s largest constituency. No opposition candidate in any other constituency performed so well in last year’s election.
There has long been talk of whether other opposition parties will support the UNM candidate. It turns out that only European Georgia and Girchi – for More Freedom support him at this stage.
Other parliamentary opposition parties, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Lelo, Citizens and Girchi, are not going to support Nika Melia.
Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said his new party For Georgia is not going to support Melia either and that he will nominate his own candidate for mayor.
Nika Melia himself says that Georgian Dream will lose Tbilisi and early parliamentary elections will be held in the spring as a consequence. According to an EU-brokered deal, early parliamentary elections will be triggered if GD garners less than 43% of votes in October’s local elections.
“I am deeply convinced of the Georgian Dream defeat. It relies only on generating violence, fear and disgust. We must confront all this with unity, strength and iron nerves,” Nika Melia said.
He also admitted that his desire was to unite the opposition and find a candidate around whom the opposition would unite, which did not work out.
“As a result we got what we got,” Melia said.
He also nominated Elene Khoshtaria, a former member of European Georgia, to run for the Sakrebulo chairperson office, and Zurab Japaridze, a libertarian politician and blogger, who left the party of Girchi a few months ago and founded a new party Girchi – for More Freedom, as deputy mayor.
Inspired by the opposition’s seeming fragmentation, Georgian Dream boasted that its candidate, Kakha Kaladze, will easily win the election in the first round.