Ruling party leading the vote in Georgia could avoid snap elections – reports
MOSCOW, Oct. 2 (Reuters) – Ruling party Georgian Dream took the lead with 47.6% of the vote in Saturday’s local election, Russian news agencies cite an exit poll ordered by the Imedi television channel, this which might be enough to avoid an early parliamentary vote. .
The elections could further degenerate into a political stalemate between the ruling party and the opposition a day after the arrest of ex-president and opposition politician Mikheil Saakashvili.
Elections in the country of about 3.9 million people, which include a vote for the mayor of the capital Tbilisi, rose to prominence amid a months-long political crisis that erupted after the elections last year’s legislative elections, which prompted the opposition to boycott the chamber.
According to the exit poll, the main opposition party, the United National Movement (MNU) founded by Saakashvili, won 27.1% of the vote, Russian news agencies report.
The UNM leader was arrested in February but released in May as the European Union tried to negotiate a deal to ease the stalemate between the government and the party.
That deal collapsed over the summer when the ruling Georgian Dream party withdrew.
The deal called for Georgian Dream to call an early parliamentary election if he did not get 43% of the vote in Saturday’s local election.
A recent opinion poll suggested popular support for Georgian Dream was below this threshold.
Although the deal has now been unwound, political analysts have said the vote could spark protests if the ruling party fails to meet the threshold set in the deal and refuses to call an early parliamentary election.
“If Georgian Dream does not get what he got in the previous parliamentary elections, which were 48.22%, we could have unrest again, probably another wave of political crisis,” said Soso Dzamukashvili, junior researcher at Emerging Europe.
Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2013 and was sentenced to prison in absentia in 2018, was arrested on Friday after returning to Georgia and called on his supporters to vote for the opposition and organize a street protest after the elections. Read more
Georgian authorities had warned that he would be arrested if he returned. President Salome Zourabishvili said after her arrest that she would not forgive Saakashvili and accused him of deliberately trying to destabilize the country.
Saakachvili’s lawyer on Friday denounced his arrest as “political detention”. In a letter published on Saturday by his lawyer and on his Twitter page, Saakashvili, 53, reiterated his call for his supporters to vote and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “fabricated false verdicts” were in the spotlight. origin of his arrest.
Saakashvili and Putin have a long history of quarrels.
Animosity peaked in 2008 when Russian peacekeepers were embroiled in a brief war in a breakaway region of Georgia, where Saakashvili was in power. Putin was the Russian Prime Minister at the time and approved the military actions.
The Kremlin said on Friday that the Saakashvili issue was outside its jurisdiction.
Reporting by Gabrielle TÃ©trault-Farber and Tom Balmforth Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin Editing by Sandra Maler, Frances Kerry and Christina Fincher
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