The wiry, white-haired Dumbadze is known for letting it rip, let the consequences be what they may.
He once exploded on television that a rival was not fit to serve Georgia because he was not ethnically Georgian. He also fiercely resisted the construction of a new mosque in his Batumi constituency, and acquired a reputation for robust Turkophobia. (He later apologized for the remarks in question.)
"If you only knew how many stupid things I’ve done in my life . . .If you think I am smart, you're wrong,” he told a gaggle of voters during the campaign.. “We see that,” one man responded with a cautious smile.
“For 20 years, I went around begging people to vote for me,” Dumbadze continued. “But . . .there was nothing, not a single vote for me. Even my mother wouldn't vote for me . . ."
“Once, just once, let me near the government,” he implored.
The Georgian Dream, apparently, is willing to do so. From the outset, the coalition has essentially been a free-for-all anti-Saakashvili club. Liberal, progressive politicians join ranks with Shevardnadze-era figures and a few individuals known for xenophobic or homophobic rants.
Some local observers, though, wonder about the decision to grant the free-form Dumbadze a post as deputy parliamentary speaker.
If approved, Dumbadze will have to share the parliamentary speakers’ bench with proposed parliamentary speaker Davit Usupashvili, the mild-mannered head of the Republican Party, who kicked Dumbadze out of his party for inflammatory talk.
With this motley crew, how long the Georgian Dream will be able to stick together is anyone's guess.
For now, Georgian civil society is concentrating on pushing for the Georgian Dream to saturate the new government with progressive minds. For Georgia's ombudsperson, a role that has acquired increasing importance after a recent prison abuse scandal, several prominent democracy watchdogs are promoting well-known rights defender Tamar Gurchiani, a member of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association.*
Ivanishvili seems to listen to some of these voices. He sent, for instance, his representative to Ia Antadze, a prominent journalist who doubles as chairperson of the Civic Development Initiative, to discuss criteria for a new education minister.
Will that trend continue as Georgia's new government sets to work?
And will the new parliamentary majority be able to speak in a single voice, compared with the more homogeneous, on-message minority, President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement?
Time -- and, no doubt, Dumbadze -- will tell.
--- The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association receives funding from the Open Society Georgia Foundation, part of the network of Open Society Foundations. EurasiaNet.org is financed by the New-York-City-based Open Society Foundation, a separate part of that network.