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Georgian Dream wins a third term as the opposition calls for a boycott of parliament

Results released by the Central Election Commission show that nine parties have passed the one per cent threshold to enter the new parliament.

November 2, 2020 - Mackenzie Baldinger - Articles and Commentary

Georgian Dream election billboard featuring Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Photo: EvaL Miko / Shutterstock

On October 31st, Georgians headed to the polls to vote in the 2020 parliamentary elections. On Sunday, with all of the almost two million votes counted, the preliminary results show the ruling Georgian Dream party has won a third term in government with 48.15 per cent of votes.

The main opposition party, United National Movement (UNM), garnered 27.14 per cent of votes, followed by European Georgia at 3.78 per cent, Lelo at 3.15 per cent, Strategy Agmashenebeli at 3.15 per cent, and the right-wing Alliance of Patriots party at 3.14 per cent. Overall, nine parties have passed the one per cent vote threshold to enter the new parliament.

Due to a significant level of polarisation in the Georgian media, the closing of voting stations on Saturday was followed by conflicting exit polls, with pro-opposition media Mtavari initially declaring United National Movement in the lead with 35 per cent of votes compared to Georgian Dream’s 30 per cent. Formula TV, a more independent media source, presented exit polls showing the Georgian Dream party in a significant lead with 46 per cent of votes compared to 28 per cent of votes for UNM.

Despite these conflicting reports, Georgian Dream was quick to declare victory, while UNM party leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, declared that the united opposition had garnered enough votes to form their own coalition government.

On Sunday, official results were released by the Central Election Commission, with Georgian Dream taking 61 proportional seats and 14 majoritarian seats, allotting them 75 seats of the 150-seat parliament. The remaining 16 majoritarian seats are headed to a second round of elections on November 21st and have yet to be decided.

As the official results poured in on November 1st, the opposition quickly voiced their outrage over an election that they say was plagued by rampant vote buying and intimidation at the polls. Strategy Agmashenebeli leader, Giorgi Vashadze, announced on Sunday that he “refused to declare the election legitimate.” The Lelo party released a statement calling for early elections to rectify Saturday’s environment of “intimidation, bribery, violence, and fraud” that “did not represent the will of the people.”

OSCE/ODIHRR released a preliminary report on Sunday, indicating that the election was “competitive and overall, fundamental freedoms were respected.” They cautioned, however, that “pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring the line between party and the state reduced public confidence in the voting process.” Despite these concerns, ODIHRR maintains that the results should not be invalidated.

Opposition parties have called for a boycott of the new parliament, and a small number of protesters gathered outside of parliament in Tbilisi on Sunday evening to voice their distrust in the results. Despite concern over the public’s lack of confidence in the results, the Georgian Dream party has maintained their victory while the opposition continues to meet and plan their next course of action to contest the elections. The polls may have closed on October 31st, but the formation of a new parliament with nine parties participating still remains uncertain.

Mackenzie Baldinger is a contributing editor with New Eastern Europe and a political researcher focusing on political extremism and populism in Central and Eastern Europe. She has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Central European University and is currently completing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in European Politics at Leiden University.

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