Georgian Ruling Party Wins Local Vote as Opposition Cries Foul
(Bloomberg) -- Georgia’s ruling party all but swept the board in second-round local elections that have been marred by violence and claims by the opposition that the vote was unfair.
Only in one municipality did the ruling Georgian Dream party fail to beat the United National Movement, the Central Election Commission said Sunday. In the battle for mayor of the capital, Tbilisi, the Dream Party’s incumbent, Kakha Kaladze, beat Nika Melia of the United National Movement by 55.78% to 44.2%, the commission said after all ballots were counted.
Georgia went back to the polls Saturday after a first round of voting on Oct. 2 failed to produce a clear winner. The opposition said the vote was “stolen” and vowed to continue its campaign. Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been on hunger strike since his arrest on the eve of the first round, while the voting has been marred by clashes between government and opposition supporters, including an assault on Melia himself.
The second round was “competitive and well-run but undermined by deepening polarization,” international observers said in a statement Sunday. “Negative rhetoric, as well as allegations of voter intimidation and the continued advantage of incumbency, demonstrated the need for further reform.”
Saakashvili has been accused by the government of illegally leaving Georgia in 2013. The incoming Georgian Dream government of his rival, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, accuses him of abuse of power shortly after his term as president ended.
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