He is active on Instagram, Ivanishvili’s pet and not the most popular person in Georgia
The ruling party’s candidate, Mamuka Bakhtadze, was given a vote of confidence by the Georgian government on 20 June, as 99 MPs supported his premiership bid, with only 6 voting against it.
Georgian Dream party nominated Minister of Finance Mamuka Bakhtadze as candidate on 14 June following the resignation of former Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
Bakhtadze will become the fourth prime minister in the six-year rule of the Georgian Dream party.
What do we know about him?
Moscow State University graduate
Bakhtadze is 36 years old. He holds a Doctorate of Technical Sciences degree and was awarded a Master’s degree at Moscow State University. He completed his MBA at the INSEAD business school in France. Bakhtadze is not married.
He started working in senior positions under former President Saakashvili where he was the general director of the Georgian International Energy Corporation from 2010 to 2012. After the Georgian Dream party replaced Saakashvili, he headed the state-owned Georgian Railway for four years, and in November 2017 was appointed Minister of Finance.
The Georgian press has placed particular emphasis on Bakhtadze’s work at the railway company, calling it a failure; the company’s turnover has more than halved since under his leadership.
Not the most popular person in Georgia
According to a survey conducted by IRI in late May two weeks before Bakhtadze’s nomination, 55 per cent of respondents had not heard of Bakhtadze.
The same results appeared in the April poll by NDI – 43 per cent of respondents did not know who Mamuka Bakhtadze was or that he was the country’s Finance Minister.
Bakhtadze’s candidacy surfaced in the media every time a prime minister resigned under Georgian Dream’s rule.
In Georgia, few doubt that Bakhtadze is Bidzina Ivanishvil’s personal choice.
The Georgian press reported that Bakhtadze is a close friend of the Ivanishvili family, and in particular, friends with his son.
The former Prime Minister and the informal leader of the country Ivanishvili called Bakhtadze ‘a good guy’ and an ‘interesting person’ in 2013, one who ‘can become one of the options for the post of Prime Minister’.
Active user of social networks
Following Bakhtadze’s nomination, many Georgian social network users began to recall how often they have seen photographs of Bakhtadze, which he posts on Instagram and pays for their advertising. Photos are clearly taken by a professional photographer, for whom the Minister willingly poses. However, they did not receive as many ‘likes’ compared to Kakha Kaladze, the mayor of Tbilisi, who also actively campaigns on social networks.
Journalists of the Georgian information site on.ge have questioned Bakhtadze advertising of his social networks accounts. The Ministry of Finance has responded by saying that advertising is not paid from the state budget and is paid from Bakhtadze’s personal funds.
Recently, one of Bakhtadze’s Twitter posts caused an outrage. In April, after six miners died in a mine accident in Tkibuli, Bakhtadze posied a tweet in which he addressed the families of the victims and expressed sympathy for their grief. Resentment was caused by the fact that the appeal to the families of the miners was written in English.
Bakhtadze stated that he intended to bring to completion the ‘historic choice of the Georgian people which implies full-fledged integration of Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic space’ at his first press conference in his capacity as candidate. He also named the creation of a ‘small and effective government’ as a priority, which, along with other reforms, implies a reduction in the number of ministries from 14 to 11.
He also called human rights a main priority. According to him, ‘a person was, is and will be the main value of the Georgian Dream’.
The new Prime Minister also plans to pay special attention to education, innovation and active involvement of young people in the life of the country.
“It is the motivated, educated, full of entrepreneurial enthusiasm, and most importantly confident young people who will bring that result, the inclusion of Georgia in countries with developed economies. And it is this Georgia that is the only and uncontested offer to our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers to return to a single family,” Mamuka Bakhtadze said.
How long will it last?
Opponents criticize the ruling force in that the shots are called according to the personal sympathies of Bidzina Ivanishvili.
However, the main question is how long will his tenure as Prime Minister last. The experts’ forecasts are not in favour of Bakhtadze, whom Georgian experts consider a technocrat, not a politician.
Political commentators refer to the experience of the last six years, which showed that Ivanishvili’s henchmen disappear from the political scene as suddenly as they appear.
- Bidzina Ivanishvili served as first prime minister of Georgian Dream in 2012, after his party won the parliamentary elections against United National Movement and Saakashvili. After 13 months in this post Ivanishvili resigned, saying that he was leaving politics altogether.
- The next Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili served for two years and one month, suddenly resigning a week before new year in 2015.
- The third prime minister of Georgian Dream, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, lasted two years and six months. After resigning on 14 June, he said that he had disagreements with the leader of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili.