Below is a round-up of some of the international reactions to Georgia’s October 1 parliamentary elections in which President Saakashvili’s United National Movement lost majority in the legislative body after being defeated by Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition.
Extracts from OSCE/ODIHR-led Int’l Election Observation Mission’s 13-page report on preliminary findings and conclusions released on Oct.2:
- Elections marked an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments, although certain key issues remain to be addressed.
- The campaign was competitive with active citizen participation… Environment, however, was polarized and tense, characterized by the use of harsh rhetoric and some instances of violence.
- The distinction between state activities and the campaign of the ruling party was at times blurred.
- Overall, election day was calm and peaceful throughout the country. International observers assessed all stages of the election day process generally positively with adherence to procedures, although counting received a less positive assessment.
- International observers evaluated the counting process less positively than voting, with a negative assessment given in almost one sixth of polling stations observed.
Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – Oct.2:
“The United States congratulates the citizens of Georgia on their peaceful and active participation in yesterday’s parliamentary elections. This was an historic day for all Georgians and for Georgia’s democratic future. We support the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission and its assessment that the Georgian people have freely expressed their will at the ballot box. And we urge the authorities to conduct the final count and appeals transparently and in accordance with the rule of law. Now that the people of Georgia have spoken, the United States encourages all parties to work together constructively in the new parliament to advance Georgia’s democratic and economic development. We look forward to working with the new parliament, as well as the cabinet and president of Georgia to build upon our strong relationship and create a brighter future for the Georgian people.
Statement by the White House Press Secretary – Oct.2:
“The United States congratulates the people of Georgia for the successful completion of yesterday’s parliamentary elections, and the achievement of another milestone in Georgia’s democratic development. Georgian citizens have set a regional and global example by conducting a competitive campaign, freely exercising their democratic rights, and affirming their commitment to undertake a peaceful transfer of power. Local and international election monitors, including OSCE/ODIHR, contributed to ensuring a transparent electoral process. While the final tabulation and appeals are still ongoing, these elections mark a significant step in the consolidation of Georgian democracy. Much work remains in the coming days and months. President Mikheil Saakashvili, Bidzina Ivanishvili and the leadership of the Georgian Dream coalition, and Georgia’s new parliament will need to work together in a spirit of national unity to ensure continued progress on the advancement of democracy and economic development to the benefit of the Georgian people and the entire region. The United States stands with all Georgians in welcoming these historic elections. President Obama and his Administration look forward to furthering our close cooperation and strong bilateral partnership with Georgia."
Statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen – Oct.3:
“I congratulate the Georgian people on completing free, competitive and peaceful parliamentary elections. This is an historic moment in Georgia's democratic development. Now it is important for all sides to come together for the good of the country and to further consolidate reforms and democratic institutions. NATO is committed to our close relationship with Georgia. We look forward to making this relationship even stronger.”
Joint statement of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle – Oct.2:
“The EU congratulates the Georgian Dream coalition on its election victory. The Georgian people have now spoken. Both responsible government and constructive opposition are essential parts of a functioning democratic society. We call on all representatives elected to the new parliament to work together in the interests of Georgia. The generally positive conduct of parliamentary elections on 1 October and the high level of voter participation, underscore Georgia’s commitment to its democratic path… We look forward to continued close cooperation with Georgia on our ambitious mutual agenda of political association and economic integration.”
Statement by British Foreign Secretary William Hague - Oct.3:
"The parliamentary elections in Georgia on 1 October marked a significant step forward in Georgia’s democratic development. Although the campaign environment was polarised and tense, voter turnout was high and the contest highly competitive. I expect that the final result will reflect the choice of the Georgian people. I welcome yesterday’s statement from the OSCE/ODIHR Observer Mission and associated Parliamentary Assembly Missions. The UK was pleased both to contribute to these missions and field a large monitoring mission throughout Georgia, in collaboration with the US and Netherlands Embassies in Georgia. It is now time for all parties to set their differences aside as they work together in the new Parliament and form a new Government. Cooperation and political dialogue are the hallmarks of a true democracy. The UK continues to support Georgia’s democratic future and Euro-Atlantic aspirations."
Statement by Russian Foreign Ministry – Oct.3:
“It is obvious that the Georgian society has voted for changes. We hope that in the end these [changes] will allow Georgia to start normalizing, building constructive and respectful relations with neighbors. Such a development would obviously be welcomed in Russia.”
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said on Oct.2:
“If these [early] results become real, the political landscape of Georgia will become more diverse. It can only be welcomed, because probably it means that more constructive and responsible forces will come to the Parliament.”
Statement Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland - Oct.3:
“The successful completion of open and competitive elections, recognised as democratic by the international observers including members of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, should be seen as a clear and unequivocal sign of the success of the democratic transformation of Georgian society over the last few years. I congratulate the Georgian Dream Coalition on the election victory. It is now important to complete all stages of the election process and handover of government in a calm and constructive atmosphere. The Council of Europe stands ready to further accompany the young but dynamic Georgian democracy in upholding fundamental values and in tackling the challenges which lie ahead."
Statement by the President of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Mignon - Oct.3:
"Georgia has taken an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections. I particularly wish to welcome the constructive approach taken by President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has announced that he wishes to facilitate the process for forming a new government. I call for dialogue between the political forces in Georgia to ensure the success of their co-existence in the interests of the Georgian people and stability in the region."