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UNM enters Parliament

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 13
The United National Movement (UNM) opposition party has decided to enter Parliament and participate in the second round of elections despite their allegations that the October 8 Parliamentary Elections were falsified.

The party, established by Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who ran Georgia for nine years between 2003-2012, held a three-hour political council meeting late on October 11.

The meeting came after controversy within the party over whether to enter the 150-seat legislative body, wherein the UNM managed to gain 27 seats in proportional voting, as Georgia’s election administration announced in its preliminary assessments.

The party can boost the number of lawmakers as a second round of the majoritarian race is scheduled in Georgia for November 2, where UNM candidates are competing in 45 election constituencies out of 50, as none of the candidates managed to overcome 50% threshold.

Saakashvili, now the Governor of Odessa region in Ukraine who lost his Georgian citizenship, has urged his party to boycott the elections as the elections were.

Saakashvili’s view contradicted the statements and assessments of all local and international observing organizations, who mentioned several violations on election day, but stressed that as a whole the elections were “competitive and free, and expressed the will of the Georgian voters”.

“We won’t let Ivanishvili’s regime [Georgia’s ex-Prime Minister, founder of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party] establish a single-party governance in Georgia. We will use Parliament and our foreign connections to promote Georgia’s European values,” UNM leader David Bakradze said after the party gathering.

He added that the UNM remained as the “single pro-Western party which can act in Parliament”.

Fellow party member Elene Khoshtaria shared Bakradze’s view, and said that despite the controversy in the organizaation, which was “typical for democratic parties”, the right decision was made.

Another member of the UNM, Nugzar Tsiklauri, said he had a different view, and thought the GDDG should have been left alone in Parliament, similar to the situation in North Korea, but majority of the party made a different decision and he respected the view of the majority.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, wherein 73 lawmakers out of the 150-seat legislative body are elected through a majoritarian race, while the remaining 77 via party list, proportional voting.

In the proportional voting, the ruling Georgian Dream –Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party received 48.668% of votes (equal to 44 seats in Parliament), the opposition United National Movement (UNM) 27.111% (equivalent to 27 seats) and the opposition Alliance of Patriots- 5.006% (6 seats). Only these three parties overcame the 5% threshold.

In the majoritarian race, the ruling party won in 23 election districts, while in the remaining 50 districts a second round of elections has been scheduled, as none of those 50 candidates managed to overcome the 50% threshold.

Out of the 50 districts, the ruling party's candidates will participate in 49 and the UNM's candidates in 45 districts. Candidates of the GDDG and the UNM will oppose one another in 44 districts.

The deadline for summarizing of the first round of the elections by Central Election Commission is October 27, while the deadline for evaluation of the second rounds is November 21.