The Georgian compromise candidate

In Georgia, the opposition umbrella group managed to choose a single candidate for January’s election. But…they picked a relative nobody. [Levan Gachechiladze](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levan_Gachechiladze), their candidate, is an a MP and has been active in politics for almost a decade, but until yesterday he was probably best known in Georgia as a successful wine merchant. Why on earth did they choose him?
Gachchiladze may not be the most impressive candidate ever fielded, but he’s possibly the best option in the circumstances.
The opposition don’t have any real heavyweights available – which is probably why Saakashvili allowed the election in the first place. Two major figures are ineligible to stand. One, [Irakli Okruashvili](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7022474.stm), the popular former defence minister who kicked off the protests by [accusing Saakashvili of murder](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7022474.stm), is below the minimum age of 35. The other, [Salome Zourabishvili](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salome_Zurabishvili), has not been living in Georgia the required 15 years: born in Paris, she was serving a s a French diplomat until Saakashvili made her Foreign minister in a surprise move in 2004.
But beyond that, the opposition are doing what coalitions always do – compromising on the lowest common denominator. No coalition member wants to see their rival become President, so they nominate somebody insignificant, and hope that they’ll later be able to manipulate him. Zurabishvili, in particular, is making an early bid to become Prime Minister if Gachchiladze wins.
Entertainingly, there’s a nice symmetry between this and what Putin is doing in Russia. Putin, like Okruashvili and Zurabishvili in Georgia, is disqualified from running for President in 2008 – in his case because of term limits. His response is [apparently](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7022474.stm) to become Prime Minister, and run the country from that position. For all his flaws, Putin is an undisputed master of political scheming – so why not learn from him?

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