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Georgia

October 1 Is 'Dream' Election Date For Georgian Opposition

Georgian opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili
Georgian opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili
By Deana Kjuka
The opposition Georgian Dream coalition couldn't be more delighted with the date of this year's parliamentary election, which will be held on October 1.

What's so special about October 1? Well, on the Georgian Orthodox Church calendar, that's St. Bidzina’s Day. And the leader of Georgian Dream is none other than Bidzina Ivanishvili.

For those producing Georgian Dream's campaign ads, it's a match made in heaven. And the opposition group is already looking to exploit it in key elections, which will set the stage for a presidential vote next year to choose a successor to President Mikheil Saakashvili.

“We are very glad that elections will be held on October 1. It seems that Saakashvili is looking forward to losing elections and we are looking forward to winning elections,” Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for Georgian Dream, told the news website Civil Georgia.

Bidzina Cholokashvili was a leading figure in the 17th century Bakhtrioni Uprising against the Persian army. He was killed in 1660 and was later canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Saakashvili, whose ruling United National Movement party has been in power since 2004, has gone out of his way to stress the importance of saints in Georgian culture.

He named May 6 -- which is St. George’s Day, celebrating the country's patron saint -- a national holiday honoring the police.

So why did Saakashvili and the ruling party, which dominates Georgia's parliament, hand this gift to a bitter foe? The choice of the day is odder still since October 1 falls on a Monday, while elections in Georgia are traditionally held on Sundays.

It's all very unclear. What is clear is that Georgian law stipulates that parliamentary elections had to be held sometime in October. It is also widely believed in Georgia that the authorities wanted to hold the elections as soon as possible, since shorter campaign seasons tend to favor the ruling party.

For these reasons, it was widely expected that the vote would be scheduled for Sunday, October 7. But there was just one problem with that. Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition holds the seventh position on the ballot, and will be clearly marked by the numeral 7.

This would have presented the opposition with an irresistible marketing opportunity: “On October 7, circle number 7 for Georgian Dream.”

RFE/RL's Georgian Service contributed to this report
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by: Jack from: US
August 04, 2012 12:49
I like it in the rump (republic of Georgia, a NATO minion, a rump republic of Wahhabi Sunni activists and Jews).

by: Anonymous
August 06, 2012 18:13
Gents, couldn't help noticing you've had this hugely relevant sidebar as one of your top stories for about four or five days. Thank you for that, and congrats for your perseverence. Firstly, it is really important whether the election falls on St Bsidina or whatever, and not on St Patrick's Day.Or, ...all Saints Day. It'll change the face of Georgia drastically. One might wonder, is this the kind of in-de pth analysis about Georgia one would expect from the glorious RFE/RL? But of course. Please do FB it, tweet it, whatever it into oblivion. It's true it's rather intellectual. But you are there to educate the masses. However, you can make it even better though. How about some witches putting a jinx or a hex or something on Saakash Willie or someone else? Or even more intellectual, how about some bare boobs from the ubiquitious Femen? Sideshow time, slideshow time. Come on, guys, you're creative. Humor us.

Secondly, are you going to keep this darn masterpiece of an analysis on your top story list until October 1? Pls do, and spare us from having to access your page in search of new and interesting stories until then. Or thereafter.

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