Opposition sees itself as election winner in georgia

Opposition sees itself as election winner in georgia

In contrast, his party, the united national movement, has many strong direct candidates in the regions of the south caucasus republic, saakashvili said in tbilisi on monday evening. Almost half of the 150 seats are allocated to direct candidates, so the distribution of seats was initially unclear.

Ivanishvili’s georgian dream movement won 51 percent of the vote, public television reported, citing polling data. Saakashvili’s party received 41 percent of the vote. In any case, the monopoly of power of the head of state, who has been in power since 2003, would be broken. Saakashvili expressed readiness for cooperation. Both leaders urged calm.

The opposition even spoke of a clear election victory with 67 to 23 percent of the vote. Because of a special feature of the electoral law, however, this does not necessarily mean a majority in parliament for ivanishvili. The country will definitely have a strong opposition for the first time, experts stressed. Both saakashvili and ivanishvili stress that they want to maintain a pro-western course and strive for membership in the eu and nato.

The vote, overshadowed by a torture scandal in prisons, is nevertheless considered a landmark decision. The election will "determine the intensity and rhythm" of relations between the european union and georgia, european commissioner for foreign affairs catherine ashton said in brussel. U.S. Warns of possible post-election violence. NATO secretary general anders fogh rasmussen spoke of a "litmus test" for democracy in the country.

Some 3.6 million eligible voters were called to the polls. Voter turnout was 53 percent late this afternoon. Saakashvili’s party currently has an absolute majority of 119 seats in a parliament with no real opposition. The election is of central importance because, as of next year, the previously subordinate prime minister will effectively take over decision-making power in the country under a constitutional amendment.

After a heated election campaign, opponents of the government complained about manipulation of the vote. The leadership had bussed voters all around to different polling stations to illegally cast their votes several times. Plainclothes policemen had smothered voters, a spokeswoman for georgian dream claimed. Non-governmental organizations criticized that opponents of the government were pressured and arrested in the run-up to the election.

Ivanishvili did not vote in protest because saakashvili’s authorities had revoked his citizenship. The businessman rejects a controversial constitutional amendment that would still allow him to participate as an EU passport holder. The presidential camp accuses ivanishvili, who has become wealthy in russia, of being a stooge of the kremlin. The relationship between the two former soviet republics has continued to fray since the war in the summer of 2008.

This is the most important vote in the country, which is strategically important for the west, since the bloodless rose revolution of 2003. Saakashvili, then a hero, is now criticized as an authoritarian leader. Now ivanishvili is seen as a new beacon of hope for many people who yearn for more democracy and prosperity.