Georgians are voting today in Municipal Elections to choose Mayors of major cities, and other local government authorities. A lot of attention is focused on the election for Mayor of Tbilisi where prominent Georgian Dream candidate Kakha Kaladze is competing for the post with several opposition candidates.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Khvirikashvili, Catholicos Patriarch Ilya II and main opposition leaders voted this morning, also urging the electorate to cast their votes.
The election campaign has proceeded largely in a calm fashion with only isolated incidents reported.
In an assessment published on the eve of the elections, three leading Georgian NGOs overall positively assessed the pre-election environment, whilst highlighting some shortcomings.. In their assessment the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Transparency International Georgia said:
"The pre-election period of the 21 October 2017 local self-government elections officially began on August 22 and lasted two months. The pre-election period was mostly peaceful and political parties were noticeably active. The election campaign was especially active among mayoral candidates in Tbilisi. Major candidates for the office of Tbilisi Mayor were known to public before the official election campaign began and their campaign periods were lengthier. Throughout the campaign period the ruling party’s dominance was evident, as demonstrated by a significant imbalance in party donations and campaign expenditures. Although incidents of violence were not widespread, as the Election Day approached instances of intimidation/harassment significantly increased. The trend of misuse of administrative resources in favor of the ruling party remains a problem. In some cases, interference with pre-election campaigning and illegal participation in campaigning were observed, including by civil servants and members of electoral commissions. No major instances of vote buying were reported."
You can read their assessment in full here
photo: Catholicos Patriarch Ilya II voting in municipal elections in Georgia on Saturday, 21 October 2017 (picture courtesy of InterPress News)
Earlier in the day Putin made a shorty private visit to Austria, where he attended the wedding of the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneisl, and held what was described by the Kremlin as "a brief conversation" with the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.
Addressing Armenia's foreign policy Nikol Pashinyan said he wanted a qualitative improvement in the relations with Russia and to improve relations with the EU. To those who are saying Armenia is going to the west, Pashinyan said, "Armenia is going nowhere. It is just standing on its feet"