Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Campaign Fever

The Iowa primaries may be 16 days away, but the Georgia presidential election--two days later--promises to be way more entertaining (or is it nerve wracking?). For those of you who haven't been keeping up, a snap presidential election was called following the events of November 7. There are currently seven candidates bidding for the presidency, including Saakashvili, who was required by the constitution to step down to run.

These elections seem to be an even wilder variation of the primary season. However, the only person who seems to be embracing the glitzy American-style of campaigning is Saakashvili, who has enlisted the help of pop stars, athletes and other celebrities. Last week, he came to Gori on a campaign stop. Judging from the preparations, the event was to be quite a show. A large tractor trailer truck, covered in Georgian flag decals and "5s" (the ballot number of his party), rolled into Stalin Square early in the morning. Later, it opened up to become a stage. More buses, plastered with the flags, the number, and giant pictures of Misha, later followed.

One of the "Misha Mobiles"
(thanks to my Georgian friend, Dato, for the pictures)

I did not attend the rally, but it really didn't matter. The music that blasted from the stage was so loud, you could hear it from several blocks away...enough patriotic pop songs to make Lee Greenwood proud. The theme song of the campaign, "Misha Magaria!" (Misha is Cool!), was recorded by a regional governor who was formerly in a boy band. The schools in town had let out for the event and it seemed that a large number of the people carrying Saakashvili placards afterward were decidedly too young to vote this year.

The crowd awaits Saakashvili

Since I don't own a TV, I can't follow the twists and turns of the campaign (Internet media has yet to catch on), but for there are a number of helpful websites for all you Georgian politics junkies:
  • As always, Civil Georgia is the best place for up-to-the-minute reports.
  • has set up an excellent site, complete with news, candidate photos and platforms.
  • Finally, check out this blog if you're interested in reading an English translation of "Misha is Cool!"


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