Election results in about dozen of provincial single-mandate constituencies remain disputed between Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream (GD) coalition and President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM).
Although it’s already clear that GD will get majority of seats and UNM, which dominated the legislative body for more than eight years, will have to form the minority group in the new Parliament, which will be based in Georgia’s second-largest city of Kutaisi, an exact distribution of seats between two rivals has yet to be defined.
According to data from all but 19 of total 3,766 precincts, which was available before midnight on October 3 on Central Election Commission’s (CEC) website, Georgia Dream has 54.92% of votes in party-list contest and UNM – 40.35%.
If these figures stand it will translate into around 44 seats for GD under the party-list system and around 33 seats will be allocated to UNM (figures are tentative and may change after final results are confirmed).
In a majoritarian contest in 73 single-mandate constituencies, data from CEC website show, that GD majoritarian MP candidates will secure 39 seats and UNM candidates – 34 seats.
If these results stand, it means that GD will have total of around 83 seats in 150-member Parliament, falling 17 votes short of a constitutional majority, and UNM will have 67 seats.
But citing ballot fraud and multiple irregularities, GD has challenged election results in several single-mandate constituencies and if the claims are confirmed the six-party coalition has a chance to further increase share of its seats in the Parliament; but even if it does, GD will still fall short of 100 seats required for passing constitutional amendments.
Davit Usupashvili, one of the leaders of GD whose Republican Party will be represented in the new Parliament by at least eight lawmakers, hinted that GD will try to fill its gap for passing constitutional laws by trying to attract support from UNM’s majoritarian MPs; among others, one of such constitutional amendments that GD plans to propose is relocation of Parliament from Kutaisi back to the capital Tbilisi.
For GD adding extra mandates to what it has already secured in the new Parliament is of crucial importance as the coalition plans to initiate number of important constitutional amendments. Judging from Ivanishvili’s public comments, one of such amendments might be a proposal to immediately increase powers of PM – the post which Ivanishvili wants to take; but the post now has far less powers than it will have after the new constitutional provisions go into force after the October, 2013 presidential election.
There are several single-mandate constituencies where GD’s majoritarian MP candidates are losing in a tight race to UNM’s candidates.
One of them is Signagi in eastern region of Kakheti, where according to official results which were available on CEC’s website before midnight on October 3, UNM’s candidate Levan Bezhashvili, a former head of the state audit agency, is winning the race by 313 votes. Tbilisi-based watchdog Transparency International Georgia, which was observing elections, released earlier on October 3 a copy of a summary protocol from one of Signagi’s precincts showing different result from the one which was posted on CEC’s website. A copy of the final protocol obtained by a TI Georgia observer from the precinct on election day showed GD’s candidate having more votes than UNM’s candidate, but the protocol posted on CEC’s website was showing different figure giving Bezhashvili more votes in that particular precinct.
GD is challenging official results in several other districts as well, including through holding protest rallies outside the respective District Election Commissions (DECs). In Terjola GD’s activists tried to break into the local DEC’s office. UNM and CEC accused GD of mounting pressure and resorting to intimidation of DEC members and EU ambassador to Georgia has called on the parties to pursue their complaints through legal mechanisms. Later on October 3 GD leadership said that the coalition’s activists were instructed to stop protesting outside DECs.
Zugdidi in western region of Samegrelo is one of those constituencies where GD has challenged officials results in which Irakli Alasania, one of GD leaders, was defeated by UNM’s candidate Roland Akhalaia, whose son Bacho Akhalaia was forced to resign less than two weeks before the elections after the prison abuse scandal. Alasania has claimed ballot rigging in Zugdidi and said there were serious violations in more than half of Zugdidi’s total of 109 polling stations; he also said that complaints have been filed to the court.
Probably the most serious violations were reported in Khashuri constituency in Shida Kartli region where armed, masked men broke into several precincts after the polling stations were closed. According to official results, UNM’s candidate leads over GD’s majoritarian MP candidate in a close race in Khashuri.
Also on October 3 the Georgian Dream announced about forming a three-member team in charge of consultations with the authorities to secure smooth transfer of responsibilities from the incumbent government to a new one to be formed by the Georgian Dream coalition. There have been lots of speculation about in the Georgian press on October 3 about how cabinet portfolios might be distributed among GD coalition members, but Ivanishvili said that currently discussion of cabinet formation was not yet a top issue on the coalition’s agenda.