The ruling Georgian Dream party has maintained its prime position in Georgian politics after results were announced for by-elections for the mayors of five key towns in Georgia, held on Sunday (19 May), ahead of next year's crucial parliamentary elections.
Georgian Dream (GD) candidates won in the polls in Zugdidi, Marneuli, Zestaphoni, Chiatura and Khulo. Because the locations are spread right across Georgia, and many of them considered as crucial locations, campaigning in the elections was intense, and the results analysed in detail.
The opposition had high hopes that it will win the key town of Zugdidi in Menghrelia region of Western Georgia. Here the main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), fielded their star candidate, Sandra Roelofs, the Dutch born wife of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is a fluent Georgian speaker and has a popular power base in the region. In preliminary results published by the Central Elections Commission "Georgian Dream" candidate Giorgi Shengelia received 54.18% of votes and Sandra Roelofs of "United Opposition" received 42,84%. The number of votes was distributed as follows: Giorgi Shengelia 30 470, Sandra Roelofs - 24 095. Other Mayoral candidates received less than 1% of votes. The Georgian Dream parties also won comfortably in the other four towns.
In elections for eight municipal councillors in different parts of the country, Georgian Dream candidates also won outright.
At the polls on Sunday one parliamentary seat was also up for election in the Tbilisi middle class suburb of Mtatsminda. Here the Georgian Dream candidate emerged with a strong lead, but did not achieve 50% of the votes cast, but is favorite to win in the second round.
Election watchdogs have not noted any major infringements during the elections, but the UNM is stiil claiming election fraud and threatening street protests.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Sandra Roelofs candidate of the opposition national movement in the Mayorial election in Zugdidi on Sunday 19 May 2019. (picture courtesy of Interpress news, Tbilisi).
The incident appears to have erupted after a 27-year-old resident of Kulakam village was reported to have been murdered.