Landslide Victory for Mikhail Saakachvili's presidential party in the general elections

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Corinne Deloy,  

Fondation Robert Schuman,  

Helen Levy

-

28 March 2004
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Deloy Corinne

Corinne Deloy

Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).

Robert Schuman Fondation

Fondation Robert Schuman

Levy Helen

Helen Levy

As expected the National Movement (MN), President Mikhail Saakachvili's party made a landslide victory in the general elections that took place on 28th March in Georgia. The Presidential party won 76% of the vote and is due to claim 185 of the 235 seat in the Sakartvelos Parlamenti, the Georgian national parliament. Amongst the MP's from the last general elections on 2nd November 2003 whose election was not annulled by the Constitutional Court one quarter represent the National Movement.

Only the parties led by Guiorgui Topadze and David Gamkrelidze obtained 7% of the vote necessary to be represented in Parliament. This party came second winning 7.5% of the vote. Opposition party leaders have accused President Mikhail Saakachvili of irregularities during this election, they say, deprived them of some 35,000 votes.

Renaissance, the Adjarian President's party won 47.6% of the vote in Adjaria but only 0.6% of the vote across Georgia overall. In the autonomous republic, Renaissance came ahead of the presidential party, the National Movement by 3.3 points. President Aslan Abachidze's party arrived first in five of the six constituencies in Adjaria achieving his best score in Khoulo (80.4% of the vote) and his worst in Kobouleti (51%). In addition to this it won in Batoumi, the Republic's capital governed by Aslan Abachidze's son, Gueorgui. Six members of Renaissance, elected in the local elections in the single vote constituencies on 2nd November last maintained their seats as MP's.

The separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia had appealed to boycott the election.

With 5.43% of the vote, the Labour Party, led by Chalva Natelachvili, which enjoyed strong popular support before the events of November last (the party won 12.5% of the vote during the last general elections on 2nd November, versus 19.5% by Mikhail Saakachvili's National Movement), did not win its wager of rising above the 7% mark. By distinguishing themselves from the "revolution" of November last and by demonstrating against the "forced" resignation of former President Edward Shevardnadze the social democrats seemed to lose their public. Finally the Traditionalist Party led by Akaky Assatiani won 2.34% of the vote.

"Substantial progress had been made in the process of democratisation and that brings Georgia closer to democratic standards", declared Bruce George, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - OSCE at the end of the election. For his party Matyas Ceorsi, director of the forty Council of Europe observers in Georgia noted that the voting in Adjaria, although far from being acceptable was nevertheless peaceful. "It is not yet enough but it is certainly an improvement in comparison with any other previous election that we have witnessed in Adjaria", he said. Minister of State Zourab Zhvania, who was in the autonomous republic for the elections insisted on minimising the incidents that took place on Sunday.

Recently the Council of Europe warned the Georgian president about dominating national political life with a single party. "A parliament dominated by one single party would denote a major regression for the development of democracy in Georgia", warned a report published by the European organisation in February last. The President, who is all powerful in his country, has too often been accused of ignoring the law or modifying it at his own convenience. In February Mikhail Saakachvili had Constitutional amendments passed by Parliament whereby the head of State can appoint and dismiss ministers without MP's consent. Likewise the President had a new national flag adopted that just happens to be the one representing his own political party. The American organisation Human Rights Watch also stressed that "worrying anti-democratic trends were emerging in Georgia".

The President won his first wager by organising, according to his own words, "equitable, normal, free and just elections". Mikhail Saakachvili, who has a wide majority in Parliament, is now free to accomplish the task ahead of him - that is to restore territorial unity in a Georgia that is threatened by the separatists in four regions (Abkhazia, Adjaria, South Ossetia and Samtskhe-Javakhetia), to eliminate corruption that, like cancer, is rotting the Caucasian Republic and finally to raise the economic standards of a country that is on the verge of bankruptcy.

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