Owl, bride and special forces
Those, who think that the lengthiest campaign period and the most unpredictable elections in Georgia’s history are over, are mistaken.
The post-election processes may turn out to be even more lengthy and tense than the pre-election preparations, since the major oppositional force declares ‘no confidence’ to the results of ballot.
Thus, the early vote tally is as follows:
Georgian Dream – 49, 78 %
United National Movement- 26, 7 %
Alliance of Patriots of Georgia- 4, 9%
None of the rest of the parties managed to get closer to a mandatory 5% threshold.
A ‘novelty’ in the future parliament may be the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, the Georgian nationalists’ party, whose leaders are distinguished by their anti-western and anti-Turkish statements and who claim to be a ‘pro-Georgian’ party. Meanwhile, the liberal-trend parties – Free Democrats (a party of ex-Defence Minister, Irakli Alasania) and Republicans, have found themselves below the 5% threshold. Paata Burchuladze’s ‘State for People’ hasn’t approached the 5% threshold either.
By 10 a.m., October 9, the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) finished counting votes from nearly 70% of polling stations. So, we shouldn’t expect any significant changes in the election results.
At this stage, the opposition parties challenge the results of ballot.
The National Movement’s chief complaint is related to the vote count procedure that took place in a rather tense atmosphere – after the polling stations had been closed, the unknown individuals burst into some of them or the adjacent areas and even broke a ballot box at one of the polling stations.
The National Movement’s second claim is related directly to the CEC’s work. The fact that this time the CEC announced the early vote tally with delay caused the opposition’s protest. Unlike the 2012 elections, when the early vote tally had been known as early as by 10 p.m., this time the early data were made public only at 2 a.m.
And thirdly, the opposition treats with suspicion the fact that the CEC’s announced early results timed to coincide with the pro-governmental Imedi TV’s commissioned exit poll data. Those exit poll data (Georgian Dream – 53%; National Movement -19%) were released at 8 p.m., immediately after the polling stations had been closed, and they gave a reason for celebration and opening Champaign at the Georgian Dream’s campaign headquarters.
The National Movement’s loyal Rustavi 2 TV also published the exit poll data, though the picture was absolutely different: Georgian Dream – 39,9%; National Movement – 32%.
The National Movement started protesting against the election results immediately upon release of the early data, on the night of elections.
The area outside the CEC building was overcrowded already at 3 a.m. The National Movement supporters gathered there and a rostrum was installed, from which the party leaders were encouraging their electorate, calling on them to defend their votes.
“Let no one have an illusion that we are going to take seats in Parliament amidst such an impudence, one of the National Movement leaders stated when addressing the rally participants.
Meanwhile, at the Georgian Dream’s campaign HQ
Champaign was opened and the victory was celebrated at the ruling party’s campaign HQ, at 8 p.m. sharp. The Georgian Dream members were making comments for press, saying they trusted Imedi TV’s exit poll data and had no doubts about their victory.
Ex-Premier, Bidzina Ivanishvili, was also there beside the government members and the party leaders, standing at the rostrum, installed outside the Georgian Dream office. Ivanishvili expressed gratitude to the Georgian electorate for their support and addressed them as follows:
“You have a genuine people’s government, led by Kvirikashvili, a genial man and leader, who lays claims to decency and morality. You have elected a genial team.
The vote count at the majority of polling stations has finished. Georgian Parliament of the 9th convocation will be a bipartisan one. This result has come as a surprise for many, since 2016 election campaign was one of the most multi-partisan one. According to various public surveys conducted ahead of elections, at least 4 political parties stood good chances to overcome the threshold.
However, things happened the other way round and the two parties, that are most antagonistically disposed to each other, will have to work side-by-side over the next four years.
Facebook users have already pictured to themselves, what the next 4 years will be like:
However, the future Parliament’s final picture is unclear yet, since according to the early data, there will be the second round of elections in most out of 73 single-mandate constituencies.
An owl, a bride and the SWAT
The election day started so peacefully, that the media have had enough time to show an owl that flew into one of the polling stations; a bride and a groom, who came to cast their votes; and an elderly man, who presented a bunch of flowers to a CEC observer at the polling station.
Apart from the comments by the politicians, who came to cast the ballot and who were convinced in their victory, throughout the day there were also the NGOs’ reports that the elections proceeded peacefully and that the violations were so insignificant, that they couldn’t affect the outcome of elections.
However, in the evening, this almost Nordic calmness and order was violated all of a sudden. The first serious incident took place in Maneuli, Kvemo Kartli region, predominantly populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis.
The situation at Kizilajlo village polling station became tense, after the commission members had noticed one and the same people trying to vote several times.
The observers representing various political parties protested against the aforesaid and demanded termination of the election process. The process soon grew into a fistfight.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the polling station, arranged in a school building. They were casting stones and brandishing batons. They smashed the windows and broke the doors. They attempted to take away a ballot box, but in vain.
The situation was relaxed only after the SWAT appeared in the village. The latter occupied the entire perimeter of the polling station.
Several people, include the police officers, were reported injured.
The authorities have blamed the National Movement for organizing the disturbances, whereas the opposition, in turn, has accused the authorities of the aforesaid incident.
The situation further aggravated after the closure of the polling stations and the beginning of the vote count procedure.
There was an attack at the polling station in Jikhashkari village. Some unknown individuals burst into the polling station and smashed the ballot boxes, thwarting the elections in this precinct. Some assumptions were made that the opposition was leading in the precincts, were the election process was canceled.
There was also a scuffle outside a polling station in Kutaisi, where several men opposed the National Movement candidate, Gigi Tsereteli. The video footage features one of the men shouting:
“Kutaisi residents, shame on you, are you going to vote for the National Movement? Are you going to marry off the men?
The representatives of the NGOs, who monitored the election process, have called on the authorities to ensure that the vote count proceeds in a peaceful environment, and also, to probe into the cases of violence in Marneuli and some other precincts.
Despite the violations, at this stage none of the observers question the legitimacy of the election results, in general.