Georgian Dream’s Giorgi Margvelashvili wins presidential election

With 90 percent of the ballots counted, the results of the October 27 presidential election give an outright victory to Georgian Dream’s (GD) candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili with over 62 percent of the votes. These results, if confirmed, mean that there will not be a second election round, as predicted by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (GD), who announced he would resign after the presidential election. The election result also means consolidation of Georgian Dream’s power, since the party is now in charge of both the presidency and the government for the first time. The official voter turnout was 46.6 percent, which is lower than during last year’s parliamentary elections (61.3 percent).

In the preliminary election results Margvelashvili is followed by Davit Bakradze of the United National Movement (UNM), the party of the outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, with almost 22 percent of the votes. Former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, received just over 10 percent of the votes. Although the results can only change slightly from now on, it may matter to Burjanadze because if her percentage points remain above 10 percent, her party will be eligible for state funding. The three front runners are followed by Labour Party leader Shalva Natelashvili (2.88 percent) and Christian-Democratic Party leader Giorgi Targamadze (1.06 percent).

Shortly after the results were announced, UNM candidate Bakradze conceded his defeat and congratulated Margvelashvili. “As an opposition leader I am ready to cooperate with the government...and to work with the new president on all those issues which are essential for the better life of our people,” Bakradze said. Outgoing President Saakashvili (UNM) thanked all voters in his post-election speech, saying “all the elections, regardless of their results, serve further democratic development in our country and ultimately, democracy is a major foundation of our political system.” However, he also expressed his disappointment in the results and added for those unhappy with the results that “any kind of retreat [for UNM] is temporary.”

Election observers
Georgia’s largest election observers’ organisation, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, said the election day had been “calm” and voting had occurred in accordance with the procedures in the majority polling station. The organisation did mention some “significant shortcomings,” including voting with an invalid ID and problems with voter lists. Another observer, the Tbilisi-based Transparency International Georgia, reported 70 cases of “significant procedural violations.”

The OSCE observers’ preliminary conclusions stated the election conduct was quite positive overall. The election was “efficiently administered, transparent and took place in an amicable and constructive environment. On election day, voters were able to express their choice freely.” However, the OSCE observers did note the election was “negatively impacted by allegations of political pressure, including on United National Movement (UNM) representatives at local-self governmental institutions.” Although the campaign eventually evolved from a confrontation between the Prime Minister and the President to a completion among the main candidates, “personality politics continued to dominate the public debate throughout the campaign.”

Sources: Civil Georgia, RFE/RL, OSCE, Reuters

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