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Local- elections held

By Tamar Lagurashvili
Monday, June 16
Local elections in Georgia were held on June 15. Public turnout was 28% at 3p.m. The elections reflected various grave and less grave violations.

12 mayors, 59 governors and 2,088 members of 71 city councils will be elected.

According to the amendments to the Election Code, mayors will be elected through direct voting in 12 self-governing cities: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi, Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti, Zugdidi, Poti and Batumi. The candidates, which will get more than 50 % + 1 of votes, will take the posts of mayors and governors. Mayors, governors and members of the city councils will be elected for four years.

According to the current data, there were difficulties in terms of two polling stations. According to the press speaker of the Central Election Administration, Eka Azarashvili, Martvili #16 polling station was opened with delay, the reason was that an armed individuals stole bulletins on the Election Day. However, the sealed bulletins were found nearby soon after. The second case dealt with Anaklia #32 polling station, where missing Gogita Abashidze’s mother and relatives broke into the station and destroyed ballot papers and the ballot box. They were demanding the investigation of the Abashidze’s case. Repeated elections will be held there in two weeks.

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) has identified several violations.

According to the head of GYLA Kakha Kozhoridze, the organization observers identified several violations related to voter lists on June 15.Transparency International Georgia claims that they identified 6 less grave and 11 grave violations by 12 p.m. According to international Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) its monitors observed four cases of campaigning inside polling stations with chairpersons of those precincts failing to react; six cases of casting ballots with improper identification documents; three cases when signatures were put across voters’ names in the lists while they actually had not cast a ballot; eight cases of the presence of unauthorized persons inside polling stations; five cases when election observers were prevented from filing a complaint with precinct election commissions.

“I am sure that today's election will be another step forward for the benefit of our country,” Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili said. Member of the United National Movement Gigi Ugulava calls on the government to get used to the idea that there will be a second round of elections.

Georgia Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili does not rule out the second round of the June 15 municipal elections.

“I think that our political team is leading the race in every city and region, but if there is a second round, it will not be a tragedy. This once again shows that we are a very transparent political party,” Gharibashvili stated.

According to US Ambassador Richard Norland, “the election process has gotten off to a very good start.” He stated that several violations have been detected. However, the process was quite normal meeting international standards.