Georgian Official Results Show Runoff Likely in Major Cities
(Bloomberg) -- Georgia’s Central Election Commission said a second round of voting is likely in all major cities after elections Saturday for dozens of mayors and over 2,000 city council members.
Opposition candidates are ahead in many cities, while the Georgian Dream party’s incumbent leads in the capital, Tbilisi, by far Georgia’s largest metropolis.
Vote counting continues Sunday. A date for runoff elections hasn’t been set.
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze had 45.2%, ahead of United National Movement leader Nika Melia with 34.3%, with about 49% of polling stations reporting as of Sunday morning.
Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, running for the newly-created For Georgia party, had 9%. That may be enough to stop Kaladze, a former professional soccer player, from reaching the 50% threshold needed to win outright.
In local government elections nationwide, the ruling party has received 47.6% of the vote and the opposition 30.5%, with 85% of polling stations reporting.
Saturday, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, detained Friday as the country prepared for local elections, urged his supporters to vote against the incumbent party.
Saakashvili, who returned from eight years in exile in defiance of warnings he’d be prosecuted for alleged abuse of power, was moved to the Rustavi prison, near Tbilisi. Nika Melia, the mayoral candidate for the opposition party said late last night, that Saakashvili is a political prisoner and should be released.
The government has accused him of misusing power while also charging him for crossing the border illegally. He’s expected to be formally charged on Sunday.
Georgian Dream was formed by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Soviet republic’s wealthiest person. He defeated Saakashvili in the 2012 election.
Some 338 international election observers from 37 countries were on hand for Georgia’s elections and are expected to make a preliminary report on Sunday about how polls were conducted.
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