Georgian Dream Party secures landslide victory in disputed polls

October 31, 2016 1:20 pm

Supporters of ruling Georgian Dream Party hold a rally after the first round of parliamentary elections in Tbilisi, on October 8, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Georgia’s ruling party has scored a landslide win in the second round of contested parliamentary elections, official results show.
The Georgian Dream Party, started by former prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, “won in all but two of 50 single-mandate constituencies,” where a second round was held on Sunday, according to central election commission spokeswoman Ketevan Dangadze.
“Independent candidates have won in two constituencies,” she added.
The ruling party will take 115 seats in the 150-seat legislature, while the opposition United National Movement (UNM), founded by exiled former President Mikheil Saakashvili, managed to secure only 27 seats, according to the results.
The other political bloc that managed to enter the new parliament is Alliance of Patriots, with six seats.
The majority allows the governing party to pass constitutional amendments, among which would probably be an amendment to give parliament the right to appoint the president, a move opposed by the UNM.
The first round of votes, which was held three weeks ago as a proportional ballot, saw the ruling party wining with 48.68 percent of the vote. The UNM came second with 27.11 percent of votes.
After both the first and second rounds, almost all opposition parties accused the government of massive vote rigging, allegations the authorities strongly rejected.
“Georgians were denied their right to make free electoral choice,” one of the UNM leaders, Giorgi Baramidze, said on Sunday.

International observers attend a press conference after first round of parliamentary election in Tbilisi on October 9, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

“The scale of electoral violations, pressure on voters and opposition activists, vote buying, is appalling,” he added.
The Central Election Commission, however, denied the allegations, saying “elections were held in a calm atmosphere and voters were able to express their will freely.”
International observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in , the European Parliament and NATO monitored the second round of the elections on Sunday.
They gave the election a good mark and said only isolated instances of violations and procedural problems were spotted.
Both Georgian Dream and UNM are in favor of good relations with the West. They seek membership in NATO and the European Union.
Meanwhile, the ruling party also seeks to maintain good ties with Russia.
The country fought a five-day war with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in 2008, which ended with Georgia losing all control of the region. Moscow recognized South Ossetia as an independent nation.
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