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Ruling party claims facile victory in Georgian parliamentary elections as uncontested vote marred by allegations of voter fraud

Ruling party claims facile victory in Georgian parliamentary elections as uncontested vote marred by allegations of voter fraud
Candidates from the governing Georgian Dream party have claimed unopposed victories in all 17 of Georgia's parliamentary constituencies, in this weekend's election. It was held without opposition parties, who staged a boycott.

Saturday’s vote was the follow up to a poll held on October 31st, in which Georgian Dream won an absolute majority, with the system using a combination of nationwide proportional representation and local constituency-based votes. The Electoral Commission has warned of possible manipulation.

At the time, all nine rival parties that had won seats accused the governing party of stealing the election through bribery, intimidation and falsification, announcing that they would together boycott the new parliament, as well as the second round of voting.

Protests and demonstrations broke out in the capital Tbilisi after the first result, with activists gathering outside the glass palace of Georgian Dream’s Chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“We are not going to let Ivanishvili steal the choice made by the Georgian people,” said disgraced former President Mikhail Saakashvili, from exile in Ukraine.

Those concerns will be amplified following Saturday’s vote, after the published results appeared to show more than 100 per cent of votes were counted in many constituencies. While what appeared to be an error caused alarm among commentators on Twitter, Georgia’s Central Election Commission cautioned that “there may be some kind of external interference in the process.”

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Since then, The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) and International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) have warned that in the “uncontested second round, control of voters’ will remains a challenge like it was in the first round.”

Georgia, once among the most politically stable former Soviet Republics, has been rocked in recent years by widespread anti-government protests that ultimately led to the introduction of the country’s complex, two-stage system of proportional representation.

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