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Second round for mayors and gamgebelis

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 17
The mayoral races in at least eight out of twelve cities are set to go into second round, according to the early results delivered by the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Georgian Dream (GD) coalition candidates lead in Tbilisi, Telavi, Rustavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Ozurgeti, Poti and Batumi. However, they failed to gain more than 50% of the votes.

The CEC has also released the early results of races in 50 out of a total of 59 municipalities for the post of gamgebeli. According to these results, the Georgian Dream coalition’s gamgebeli candidates have received more than 50% of the votes. Thus, there will not be a need of a second round. There are at least 8 municipalities where Georgian Dream candidates are leading. However, they lack the obligatory 50% +1 votes.

Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stated that the current government conducted “historical elections in Georgia.” He stressed that there was no pressure on voters unlike during the previous administration. He stressed that the 50% threshold was the choice of the new government.

“We know that the barrier might force a second round of voting. However, we accepted the experiment for the people to get used to the democratic choice,” Gharibashvili said. The PM said that additional expenses caused by a second round of voting would be “justified” owing to the democratic path Georgia has selected.

“I am sure that people would be more motivated in the second round and once again make their choice in favor of us,” Gharibashvili said.

Leaders of the UNM opposition party have stressed that a “very low” voter turnout demonstrated the “deep crisis of public trust” in terms of the Georgian Dream coalition.

Giga Bokeria, one of the UNM’s leaders, said that the low voter turnout was a “direct result of a general atmosphere of violence, hatred, intimidation, and cynicism created by the government.” The UNM also claims that their chances increase in the second round.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes that the coalition should think about the mistakes it has already made.

Analyst Khatuna Lagazidze states that these elections were very significant elections in Georgia’s history, as the government managed to hold it fairly and transparently unlike previous governments. Lagazidze shares the vision that the elections should be a very clear message for the government that certain reorganization and changes are required in the main party.

The head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, said that the election revealed a “silent protest” exhibited by the Georgian population towards the current government.

“If the government fails again to restore justice, if they put forth non-qualified candidates, take high bonuses and so on, they will get worse outcomes in the following elections,” Kakhishvili said.

The CEC states that the second rounds will be scheduled presumably by the end of July. The race will be held between the two candidates who enjoyed the highest rating during the first round.