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Christian Democrat and New Democrat on course for victory

By Sopo Datishvili
Wednesday, November 5
Early on November 4, the national Central Election Commission announced the initial results of by-elections held in Tbilisi, according to which Tamaz Kvachantiradze and Guram Chakhvadze were elected as the new Members of Parliament for Vake and Didube respectively.

The CEC said that, with 80% of the votes counted in both by-elections, Tamaz Kvachantiradze from the Christian Democrats had received 2,940 votes in Vake. His opponents, Levan Asatiani of We Ourselves and Kakha Koridze from Georgian Troupe, had received 2,363 and 1,577 votes respectively.

Tamaz Kvachantiradze has already outlined his priorities. “I will be a severe but constructive opponent of the ruling party. I’m entering Parliament not to strain the situation but to achieve reconciliation,” he said.

In Didube Guram Chakhvadze from the National Democratic Party was leading with 5,272 votes. Jemal Natelashvili from the Radical Democratic party and Natia Mikiashvili from Georgian Troupe, received much less support, Mikiashvili having garnered only 1,413 and Natelashvili 724 of the votes counted so far.

The leader of Georgian Troupe, Jondi Bagaturia, seemed to be dissatisfied by the results and suggested that what he called an “election carousel” was going on. “One and the same people, with several passports in their pockets, were moving around the Didube precincts and voting for a particular candidate several times,” Bagaturia said. When asked who he considered to be behind this alleged rigging, he replied that the carousel was undertaken on behalf of the Government’s favourite candidate (the ruling party refused to take part in the Tbilisi by-elections, only competing in the Adjara elections held simultaneously), but he categorically refused to comment in further detail.

Christian Democratic press spokesperson Magda Anikashvili described the by-elections as very calm, without any abrogations. “Our observers noticed several procedural irregularities but none were so serious that they could affect the results. Although voter activity was low, the electorate has made its choice in Vake and voted for our candidate. In general, low activity is unusual at by-elections,” she added.

As the elections were held in only two districts of Tbilisi, by midday on November 4 the Central Election Commission had already counted 80% of the votes. Only 11.44% of registered voters in Didube and 7.63% in Vake cast a vote, mainly due to the fact that these two districts had already chosen their candidates in the May, 21 2008 Parliamentary elections, David Gamkrelidze in Vake and David Saganelidze in Didube. Both had declined to take their seats, alleging that the elections were rigged, thus provoking these by-elections.

Under Georgian legislation the final results of the by-elections will be declared in 18 days’ time.