Will Grigol Vashadze be elected Georgian president?

Will Grigol Vashadze be elected Georgian president?

Salome Zurabishvili has topped the anti-rating of presidential candidates, conducted by Edison Research.

According to the poll data, when asked which presidential candidate they would never consider voting for, 44% named Salome Zurabishvili (backed by Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia), 24% named Zurab Japaridze (Girchi) and 16% named Kakha Kukava (Free Georgia).

When asked "if the election was held tomorrow, which candidate would you vote for," 26% of eligible voters expressed support for Grigol Vashadze (a candidate from the Power is in Unity alliance of opposition parties), 14% for Salome Zurabishvili, and 12% for David Bakradze (a candidate from the European Georgia Party), Georgia Online reported.

The head of the Center for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus, Mamuka Areshidze, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, Grigol Vashadze’s percentages largely reflect not his popularity, but the share of the United National Movement’s supporters in the country. "Vashadze himself has no rating. The UNM has built a  very good anti-government PR campaign, in which Salome Zarubishvili is represented as an enemy of the people and the state. Thus, the party seeks to maximize the disadvantages of Vashadze and the UNM, in which they succeed, I think," he said.

Mamuka Areshidze noted that the government, despite the statements, is conducting a rather weak PR campaign for Salome Zourabishvili.

Mamuka Areshidze called the Edison Research poll a part of this PR campaign by the UNM. "The UNM also needs this poll to declare vote fraud, after Vashadze loses the elections," the political scientist said, adding that Zurabishvili would likely win in the first round.

The head of the Institute of Management Strategy, Petre Mamradze, described Salome Zurabishvili's shortcomings as a presidential candidate in more detail. “I do not support Salome Zurabishvili and I will not vote for her. She still does not have a perfect command of the Georgian language. In addition, people are really very frustrated by the activities of the Georgian Dream which supports Zurabishvili," he noted.

He also explained the rating of Grigol Vashadze with a misalignment in the audience towards the UNM supporters. "There are about 12-13% supporters of Mikhail Saakashvili and the UNM in Georgia, all the official statistics on the elections confirm this. But these people are a well-organized electorate who goes to the polls. Therefore, when the turnout is 50%, 13% of the UNM are turned to 26% votes, as it was in 2016 at the parliamentary elections. And if citizens are indifferent to the elections and one-third of voters come to them, Vashadze may get up to 40% of the votes," the political scientist warned.

“In Georgia, the protest moment against the existing government is very strong. The second round in such conditions can be perceived as a mistake by the authorities, which will only raise the protest mood," Petre Mamradze concluded.

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