Shift of power in Georgia after parliamentary election

October 2nd, 2012   Countries and Regions | Georgia | News

When the election results were presented earlier today, they showed that the governing party United National Movement (UNM), led by President Mikheil Saakashvili had been defeated by Bidzina Ivanishvili and his party coalition, Georgian Dream.

The pro-EU and Western friendly party UNM with Saakashvili as leader has formally ruled Georgia since January 2004. Saakashvili was known to the world for the Rose Revolution in the autumn of 2003 when he stepped into the House of Parliament after President Eduard Sjevardnadze had been re-elected due to rigged elections, and interrupted Sjevardnadze’s opening speech. To show that the protest was peaceful, Saakashvili carried a bouquet with red roses. A few months later he had formed a government.

Since then, most of the UNM’s work has focused on reducing corruption, which has been considered one of Georgia’s major problems since the independence from the Soviet Union.

After almost nine years as Georgia’s biggest party, it is now time for a shift of power. The challenger, the leader of Georgian Dream, is the businessman and politician Bidzina Ivanishvili who is known as Georgia’s richest man and on the list of the richest people in the world. Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to improve Georgia’s poor relations with Russia and fight poverty in the country.

According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Georgian elections were free and fair even though the campaign was described as polarizing and with “harsh rhetoric”.

When 25 percent of the votes was counted on Monday, Georgia’s Central Election Commission concluded that Georgian Dream had received 53 percent of the votes compared to governing UNM’s 42 percent.

European People’s Party (EPP), a European-level politicial party of the centre-right, commented on yesterday’s results and said it was a proof that Georgia has strengthened its democratic position. With a strong opposition, the debate will now take place in the Parliament and not in the streets, said Wilfried Martens, the President of the EPP. However it remains to be seen whether Georgian Dream will continue in a democratic direction, he added.

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