Georgian President Launches Pre-Election Campaign Aimed at Mobilizing Youth

TBILISI - Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Wednesday launched a campaign to inspire the country’s youth to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 8.

Dubbed Your Voice is Our Future, the campaign is funded by the presidential reserve fund and involves several summer camps in eight of the country’s regions that have been set up to teach high school students campaigning skills.

Those who complete the one-week trainings will then carry out vote canvassing in their regions.

“The goal is to go into the nearby cities, towns and villages to speak with the local communities…urge them to go at the polling stations and vote. It is important to share information about the elections and encourage people to think seriously and thoroughly about politicians’ pre-election promises,” Margvelashvili said at the opening of a camp located at Bazaleti Lake, north of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Margvelashvili said the initiative is not meant to support a political party, but aims to boost the public’s awareness about the country’s election process.

“You should convince every citizen that casting a ballot is their obligation as a responsible member of society,” Margvelashvili said.

A recent poll by Georgia’s National Democratic Institute revealed that a majority (57 per cent) of registered voters in the country remain undecided as to who they will vote for in the elections.

The NDI’s Senior Director Laura Thornton called the upcoming election “the most unpredictable election season in the country’s recent history”.

Under the constitution, the Georgian Parliament’s 150 members serve four-year terms, with 77 seats set by proportional representation and 73 in single-seat constituencies.

The ruling Georgian Dream coalition dominates the current parliament with 85 seats.

The coalition - founded by Georgia’s eccentric billionaire oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili - swept to power following a major prison scandal in 2012.

Comprised of six independent parties, it won the parliamentary elections four years ago and unseated pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) in the process.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller 

Photo: President's Press Office

11 August 2016 16:46