Leader of Georgia’s eccentric libertarian Girchi party to run for parliament
The leader of the libertarian Girchi [Geo. pinecone] party, Zurab Japaridze, will run for parliament in the elections on October 31, 2020 as a majoritarian candidate in the Didube-Chugureti district of Tbilisi.
Japaridze’s candidacy was supported by the opposition Strength in Unity bloc.
One of the leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream, Gia Volsky, is considered his main rival.
Japaridze has already challenged him to a debate on the future of Georgia in any form convenient for the opponent. The founder of Movement for the People, Anna Dolidze, intends to run in the same district.
Zurab Japaridze was formerly elected to parliament while a member of the United National Movement (UNM), when he served as the party’s general secretary.
Some time after the defeat of the UNM in the 2012 parliamentary elections, he left the party and soon founded the ultraliberal movement Girchi, subsequently reformatting it into a party.
Japaridze and Girchi have repeatedly attracted public attention with extraordinary campaigns. In particular, they were the first to advocate the legalisation of marijuana and prostitution. They registered a neo-religious church and, taking advantage of the imperfection of the legislation, began to exempt young men from being drafted into the army, giving them certificates that they were clergy of an established church – according to Georgian legislation, priests were exempted from military service.
Before the 2020 parliamentary elections, Girchi, along with other opposition forces, joined the Unity in Strength alliance.