Irakli Kobakhidze, the 45-year-old chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, is all but certain to become Georgia's next prime minister.
He was nominated for the post by the party's founder and honorary chairman, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The nomination was approved at a special party congress on February 1.
Kobakhidze's nomination will now go to the parliament, where it should easily receive the necessary 76 votes out of 150 given Georgian Dream's majority in the legislature.
He will replace Irakli Garibashvili, who resigned on January 29 after three years in office and who was elected at the congress as the party's new chairman.
Kobakhidze is set to lead the party during the fall 2024 parliamentary election, when it will seek to extend its 12-year rule by another four years.
Kobakhidze is a lawyer who began his political career in 2015. He briefly served as Georgian Dream's executive secretary and was elected to parliament in 2016. He served as speaker in 2016-19 and has been majority leader since then. He has concurrently served as Georgian Dream party chairman since 2021.
He's also known for his fierce loyalty to the party's billionaire founder. Upon taking the stage to receive his nomination, his first order of business was to glorify Bidzina Ivanishvili as "an example to all of us of how to serve one's country. Over the past few years, each member of the team has made his contribution to the country's advancement. But it must be said that it is thanks first and foremost to Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili that Georgia has democracy, peace, and economic advancement and that the country received EU membership candidate status."
John Horan is Eurasianet's Caucasus editor.