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Georgia's ruling party wins landslide

October 31, 2016

Georgia’s ruling party has won by a significant majority in disputed parliamentary elections, official results show. The main opposition party has alleged fraud.

Georgien Parlamentswahlen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Z. Kurtsikidze

The pro-European Georgian Dream party secured 48 of the 50 seats up for grabs in the second round of voting, the Central Election Commission said Monday.

"Georgian Dream won in all but two of 50 single-mandate constituencies," commission spokeswoman Ketevan Dangadze told AFP. 

Georgian Dream took 67 of the parliament's 150 seats in the first round on October 8. Runoffs were held Sunday for 50 other seats in which no candidate claimed a majority.

The second-round results give Georgian Dream a super majority of 115, cementing the party's grip on power and allowing it to form a new Cabinet and pass constitutional amendments. The opposition United National Movement (UNM) came in second with 27 seats, while the anti-Western Alliance of Patriots took six seats.

Turnout was low in the runoffs, with only 37.5 percent of eligible voters participating.

Opposition cries foul

Opposition parties have accused the government of massive vote rigging in the elections - the first polls since the ex-Soviet republic's peaceful transfer of power in 2012. 

"Georgians were denied their right to make a free electoral choice," Giorgi Baramidze, a leader of the United National Movement (UNM) told AFP.

The voting commission rejected the allegations. However, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, a watchdog that deployed some 700 observers for voting day, said it had registered some isolated procedural violations.

Georgian politics is dominated by exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili - an informal UNM leader - and tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, who previously served as prime minister and now leads Georgian Dream from behind the scenes.

Strategically located Georgia, a US ally, is seeking to join the European Union and NATO in the future. 

nm/tj (AP, AFP)