Georgian opposition does not recognise election results - is new political crisis ahead?
The opposition does not recognize the results of municipal elections in Georgia, in which its candidates lost in all constituencies, and calls on its supporters to gather in front of parliament at 19.00 on 31 October. There, the opposition intends to announce its plan for further actions.
“The fight is just beginning”, Nika Melia, leader of the leading opposition party, United National Movement, said at a briefing.
The second round of elections took place on 30 October in five self-governing cities and 15 municipalities. Deputies of the local parliament (sakrebulo) have also been elected in 24 majoritarian districts.
The candidates of the ruling Georgian Dream party won everywhere, except for the city of Tsalenjikha in the Samegrelo region, where a representative of the National Movement (the party created by ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili) was elected as mayor.
In the first round of elections, the ruling Georgian Dream party received 46.69% of the vote, and the United National Movement – 30.7%.
In the second round, in most municipalities, the ruling party won by a very small margin – 1-2%, and in some places even less than 1%.
The authorities’ candidate got the biggest advantage in Tbilisi. The incumbent mayor, Kakha Kaladze, bypassed opposition candidate Nika Melia by more than 10%.
Results of the second round of mayoral elections in five major cities
- Kakha Kaladze (“Georgian Dream”) – 55.60%,
- Nika Melia (National Movement) – 44.39%
- Iosebi Khakhaleishvili (Georgian Dream) – 51.64% (34,925 votes)
- Khatia Dekanoidze (National Movement) – 48.36% (32703 votes)
- Archil Chikovani (Georgian Dream) – 51.01% (38236 votes)
- Giorgi Kirtadze (National Movement) – 48.98% (36,710 votes)
- Nino Latsabidze (Georgian Dream) – 53.72% (27,301 votes).
- David Kirkitadze (National Movement) – 46.28% (23,523 votes);
- Beka Vacharadze (Georgian Dream) – 57.35% (11,345 votes).
- Gigi Ugulava (National Movement) – 42.65% (8,437 votes)
In 42 majoritarian constituencies, where the second round of elections took place, only 14 opposition deputies were elected.
“Elections rigged” – opposition prepares for protests
The opposition stated that the elections were rigged, claiming that the authorities used bribery, intimidation and other forms of pressure on voters.
Observers confirm this as well. According to Nino Dolidze, executive director of the influential public organization International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, in addition to procedural violations in the second round of elections, there was voter pressure too.
“These and other violations could have influenced the results of the elections. The second round of elections is a missed opportunity for the country’s democratic development”, Dolidze said at the briefing.
The opposition says that it will fight against election fraud, but what exactly this fight means is still unknown.
“The battle did not end yesterday, yesterday it began. These were elections against the backdrop of total violence. But our struggle will be peaceful protests”, said opposition leader Nika Melia.
The parties, which announced the formation of a coalition with the United National Movement – The Time Has Come and European Georgia, confirmed their participation in the rally on the evening of October 31. However, it is unknown whether the opposition will remain united.