The ruling party in Georgia decisively won parliamentary elections, firming its grip on power in the former Soviet nation, near-complete results showed on Sunday. With 99.41 percent of the votes in, data from the Central Election Commission gave the ruling Georgian Dream party 48.61 percent of the vote and the opposition United National Movement (UNM) 27.04 percent. A U.S. ally traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West, Georgia hopes to join the European Union and NATO one day even though that is something that Russia, its former colonial master, strongly opposes. With political stability still fragile — the first peaceful transfer of power since the 1991 Soviet collapse only took place four years ago – the authorities were keen the election be widely seen as free and fair to avoid a return to the days when politicians tried to seize power by force.
… Georgian Dream, which is pro-Western but also favors closer ties with Russia, declared victory shortly after polls closed on Saturday.
“I congratulate you with a big victory Georgia!” Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili told jubilant supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters in Tbilisi, the capital. “According to all preliminary results, Georgian Dream is leading with a big advantage,” he said, as dozens of party members waved blue party flags and balloons.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said on Sunday the election had been competitive and that fundamental freedoms had been generally respected. With some parties threatening to organize street protests if they do not get into parliament, the government is likely to use the OSCE’s assessment to bolster its assertion that the vote was largely fair despite some problems.