The leader of Girchi party, Zurab Japaridze, will visit five families that pay the most at his ‘auction’" />

Georgian presidential candidate offers himself up ‘for rent’ for New Year’s Eve

The leader of Girchi party, Zurab Japaridze, will visit five families that pay the most at his ‘auction’

The Georgian liberal Girchi party has decided to earn some extra money this New Year’s Eve by offering to ‘rent out’ its leader, Zurab Japaridze, as a mekvle to five families who pay the most at auction.

In Georgian tradition, a mekvle is the first guest to walk through the door after midnight on new year’s, and a family’s good or bad luck is said to depend on this person for that year.

Girchi leader Zurab Japaridze. Photo: Official Facebook page of Girchi

Households that want Japaridze to be their mekvle this year have until 23:30 on 31 December to place their bids.

The auction has already begun – you can track the bids here

At the moment of publication, the top three leaders were ready to pay 111 [about $40], 100 [about $37] and 50 lari [about $19] for Japaridze’s visit.

The party will determine the five winners. Each visit will last at least 35 minutes.

Japaridze will only visit families in Tbilisi.

What is the Girchi party? 

Girchi leader Zurab Japaridze participated in the presidential elections in 2018 and received 2.26 per cent of votes in the first round – that is, 36,034 votes.

The party was created back in 2015 by a number of politicians who decided to leave the ranks of the former ruling United National Movement party, Mikheil Saakashvili’s party.

Girchi is very active on social media and holds a number of quirky and press-worthy events.

For example, on New Year’s Eve in 2016, the activists of Girchi defiantly planted hemp seeds in their office. A few months ago, they held a marijuana festival in Tbilisi.

Their supporters are largely youth who support the ultra-liberal views of the party.

Girchi advocates drug legalisation, the transition to a contract army and the abolition of compulsory military service. The union also advocates the rejection of state benefits and subsidies and minimal state intervention in the economy.

Thanks to a lawsuit filed by representatives of Girchi in July 2018, the Constitutional Court of Georgia actually legalised the use of marijuana in the country, abolishing the administrative fine. In response, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs prepared a bill providing for a number of restrictions on the use of marijuana.

In April 2017, Girchi registered the religious organisation Christian Evangelical Protestant Church of Georgia – Biblical Freedom. As party leaders explained at the time, they thus found a way to legally liberate young people from the army.

The scheme is the following: a conscript comes to the organisation, he is given a certificate that he is a clergyman, and the state exempts him from service, since, according to Georgian legislation, military recruitment may be delayed if the person is a clergyman or attends a seminary.

The idea of ​​the organisers worked: Girchi says there are already more than three thousand such “priests”.

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