Preliminary Results Put Georgian Dream Ahead in Midterm Elections

TBILISI – Preliminary results from mid-term elections held in eight of the country’s electoral districts show the ruling Georgian Dream coalition ahead in the polls.

Elections were held Sunday in Zugdidi, Gardabani, Kaspi, Tskaltubo, Ozurgeti, Khobi and in Tbilisi’s Gldani district to fill vacant seats in the local councils
According to the early results, the Georgian Dream is ahead in the Tskaltubo (67, 94%), Gldani (80,87%), Kaspi (61,69 %) Gardabani (98,68%) and Khobi(100%) electoral districts. The opposition UNM currently leads in Ozurgeti (60,67%) and Zugdidi (49,76%).

During the voting process, members of the UNM - including several former high-ranking party officials - were beaten by a group of supporters of the Georgian Dream outside a polling station in Kortskheli, a village near Zugdidi in western Georgia.
Videos released by local TV stations show UNM members Nika Melia, a former Tbilisi mayoral candidate, and Foreign Relations Secretary Giga Bokeria, beaten by supporters of the Georgian Dream.

The opposition accused the Georgian Dream of staging the event to distract attention away from their poor polling numbers in the days leading up to the elections.

Giorgi Gabashvil, head of the UNM faction, later identified 14 individuals – all athletes – who were involved in the incident on Sunday.

“The athletes are financed by Deputy Prime Minister Kakha Kaladze and recruited by Gega Areshidze, the head of security for former Internal Affairs Minister Alexander Chikaidze. His cousin is a wrestler and he was the main instigator of Sunday’s events,” Gabashvili said.

The Georgian Dream’s Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze said that the incident occurred because leaders of the UNM were trying to provoke Georgian Dream supporters as they went to the polling stations.

"I saw the video myself. It’s just funny. This is yet another provocation staged by the United National Movement and Free Zone", Kobakhidze said.

“The violent incident in Kortskheli has severely damaged the electoral process,” the chairwoman of the Central Election Commission, Tamar Zhvania, said after polling stations closed Sunday.

“I hope that the investigation, which is now underway, will be completed soon and the perpetrators punished – it should become an example of how to prevent future incidents There is no place for violence in the electoral process in Georgia,” Zhvania stated.

Local non-governmental organizations, which were observing the election process, released a statement urging the government and law enforcement officials to determine the identity of the persons involved.

Georgia’s five main political parties – the UNM, Georgian Dream, Free Democrats, Free Georgia and Peoples’ Authority – all took part in the elections.

Almost 300 observers from 19 local non-governmental organizations and six observers from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems observed the polling process.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller


23 May 2016 13:45