The Free Democrats held a party convention on February 19th in Tbilisi. Delegates selected Shalva Shavgulidze as the new chairman. The former leader of the party, and a former defense minister of Georgia, Irakli Alasania, was also present at the convention. Alasania resigned as the party’s chairman on October 10, 2016, after the party’s loss in the October 2016 parliamentary elections, stating that he was temporarily leaving politics.
Speaking to journalists at the convention, Alasania stated that he is not planning to be actively involved in politics and that he will continue work in the business sector.
Alasania was not the only high-ranking party member to leave the party after the 2016 electoral defeat. Former party leaders Zurab Abashidze, Davit Onoprishvili, and Gia Tsagareishvili announced after Alasania’s resignation that they plan to cooperate with the Georgian Dream party, following a meeting with the chairman of the Georgian Dream, Gia Volski. Davit Onoprashvili has openly encouraged the public to support the Georgian Dream, arguing that there is ‘no alternative.’
On February 6, former Free Democrats politician Gia Tsagareishviili was appointed as the main advisor to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia. On November 28, 2016, former Free Democrats MP Viktor Dolidze was appointed as the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
The Free Democrats ran as part of the Georgian Dream coalition in the 2012 parliamentary elections. The party split from the coalition in November 2014, in protest of embezzlement charges brought against five former members of the Ministry of Defense, when Irakli Alasania was defense minister. Deemed ‘the Cable Case.’ the charges were widely believed to be politically motivated.
According to the Central Electoral Commission, the Free Democrats received 4.61% of votes in the October 2016 election, putting them under the 5% threshold and leaving them outside of parliament.