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Voter Turnout Very Low as UNM Sweeps By-Election

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 4
The primary results of all 54 election districts were released by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia, on October 3, after a by-election in Telavi constituency. The winner is Vasil Davitashvili, the ruling party candidate and former governor of Telavi, with 84.3% of the vote.

Davitashvili was followed by a candidate from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) Nikoloz Lashkhi with 10.9%, and the Industrialist party's candidate Vasil Arabuli with 4.7%. As CEC reports, the elections took place smoothly and without any serious incidents. At the same time, it should be mentioned that the voter turnout was not very high – around 30%.

The ruling party gave the elections a high mark and claiming that they had became one more reason proving that elections in Georgia are held according to European standards. “The Telavi by-election was the symbol of free and competitive elections,“ ruling party MP, Pavle Kublashvili, said. He also considered that voter turnout was high, contradicting the official count, and showed that there was serious interest in Telavi towards the election process and parliamentary life.

It is difficult to say how successfully the opposition parties did in an election that they themselves admitted was a test for them before “the main battle.” According to a representative of the Christian-Democratic Movement, Nika Laliashvili, step by step, the United National Movement’s election technologies are becoming “more aggressive and refined.” However, not only technologies, as Laliashvili also told The Messenger the ruling parties appetite is also increasing, “it was a serious test for our movement, we checked out power and the ruling party's abilities also.” He continued that one of the main reasons for the election outcome was the imbalance in financial resources, “the National Movement used 100% of their financial means in the elections, when we used ours very thriftily." To The Messenger’s question about what they have got out of the outcome of the elections and how they would act to be more successful in the upcoming elections, Laliashvili refrained from making any concrete comment and mentioned that the CDM has made some conclusions on how to act in future.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association stated that the elections were held without serious violations. The organization mainly stressed technical and structural shortcomings and one aspect they were unhappy with: “there are people in the election districts who write down who participates in the voting and who does not. This is not a direct violation of the law, however, we think that that it might influence the voters’ choice,“ the organization's chairwoman, Tamar Chugoshvili told The Messenger.

As the analyst, Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, the elections once more displayed the nihilism in Georgian society, “to conclude, nearly 30% of the voters participated in the elections and the rest were indifferent towards it. The ruling party has managed to consolidate its resources and supporters to be maximally presented in the election process,“ the analyst said, adding that the other 70% might not support the United National Movement, however they do not identify themselves with the opposition at the same time, which is a sign of nihilism. “If the opposition has taken the elections as a test, I can say that they failed it. To be more successful in the elections, the opposition should regain public trust and make people believe that they will build a better Georgia.“