Ruling Party Wins By-Elections

The ruling party won the by-elections held in Mtatsminda district in Tbilisi on 9 June, the Central Election Commission announced on Monday.

Only two candidates ran in the elections: Vladimir (Lado) Kakhadze from the ruling Georgian Dream (Democratic Georgia) party and Shalva Shavgulidze from the European Georgia (Free Democrats) party.

Chairperson of the CEC Tamar Jvania announced the election results at a press conference on Monday morning. Kakhadze won with a 61.83% share of the votes, receiving 10,738 votes, whilst Shalva Shavgulidze received 37.17% (6,630 votes).

The first round of elections was held on May 19. However, as none of the candidates crossed the 50% threshold, the position was decided in a second by-election. By 8 PM on Sunday, 18,105 voters had cast their ballot, accounting for 41,23% of registered voters across 31 polling stations.

Due to the small number of candidates running for the position, there was only one ballot paper. The vote counting process was fast, with preliminary results released by 10.30pm on the evening of the elections.

The CEC stated that polling and vote counting procedures were conducted “in line with election legislation in an accessible environment.”

“Observers and authorized representatives of election subjects had an opportunity to freely monitor vote counting procedures,” read a statement by the CEC on their website.

The Mtantsminda seat, previously held by Salome Zurabishvili, became vacant after she was elected as the fifth President of Georgia on 16 December 2018.

Georgian Dream’s Political Secretary Irakli Garibashvili announced Kakhadze’s candidacy for the free seat on March 25.

“Kakhadze is a professional in his field, he loves his city, his country, and its people… caring for Tbilisi is nothing new for him, he will contribute to our team and will strengthen us,” said Garibashvili.

Kakhadze is a radiologist who has worked in Georgian politics for some time. “It is a great honor for me to be elected as Mtastminda MP and bring the problems of the district to parliament,” he stated in the lead up to the elections.

Shalva Shavgulidze, the European Georgia candidate, refused to congratulate Kakhadze on his victory. European Georgia thought he would be unsuccesful as they believe that Georgian Dream fails to address real problems that Georgians face.

Georgian Dream did congratulate Kakhadze on the results: “I congratulate Lado Kakhadze on the elections victory,” announced Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze on Facebook. “I would like to express my gratitude to our citizens once more for their declared trust [in Georgian Dream.]” he continued. “We know exactly what kind of problems are faced by our people and, together with the public, we will be able to overcome existing difficulties.”

The ruling Georgian Dream party was formed by Georgian billionaire businessman and politician Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012, who remains chairman of the party. On Monday morning, Ivanishvili chaired a meeting with Georgian Dream members regarding ongoing issues and plans in the upcoming period.

By Amy Jones

Image source: Georgian Dream Facebook

10 June 2019 17:20