Are there any chances Salome Zurabishvili becomes president?
Last week, speaker of the Georgian parliament Irakli Kobakhidze said that political council of the ruling Georgian Dream party decided to support self-nominee for the post of Georgia's president Salome Zurabishvili. People immediately began to discuss possibility of a new political tradition: if Zurabishvili will become president, she can fulfill her duties as president based not on the interests of any party or group, but society.
Nomination of a female candidate is unusual for modern political establishment of Georgia, but current situation may be affected by romanticism of Georgia's political history, which goes back to the era of legendary Queen Tamara. Meanwhile, everyone remembers Salome Zurabishvili's statement about responsibility of Mikhail Saakashvili's team for the five-day war of 2008. After these words, many people saw Zurabishvili's determination, concluding that it would be difficult to manipulate her.
Nevertheless, Salome Zurabishvili's nomination can be viewed as a diversion before nomination of a "true favorite", since rumors about possible support for Zurabishvili from the ruling party have leaked into Georgia's media long ago. Victory of the candidate from the United National Movement (UNM) is the biggest threat for the Georgian Dream. Opposition nominated former foreign minister Grigol Vashadze as presidential candidate. He's a man who has considerable authority in Georgia. It should be noted that political cleansing, typical for present-day Armenia, didn't take place in Georgia after Mikheil Saakashvili left the country, that's why positions of ex-president's colleagues from the UNM are still strong in the republic.
Zurabishvili's second rival is David Bakradze - a candidate from the European Georgia movement, which, according to public opinion polls, is rapidly gaining popularity.
Opposition already began to talk about upcoming electoral fraud. It's rumored that now the Georgian Dream is waiting for the right moment to nominate candidate from the party.
As for Salome Zurabishvili, she fits into the Georgian political environment (she worked in France for a long time), so sometimes she just can't understand what's expected of her, and who she should talk with. However, there's a common ground that brings together the Georgian Dream and Zurabishvili: she doesn't plan to join any political alliances with any opposition parties, which the ruling party fears the most.
Finally, support for any candidate is also determined by the Russian factor. Situation in Transcaucasia right now isn't that favorable for Moscow. Recently, former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan noted on Russian TV that there's possibility of his "triumphant" return to Armenian politics. It's pretty expensive to have an opportunity to speak on the Russian federal channel. If political tensions in neighboring Armenia will escalate, Georgia will have to think about its own stability.