Results are coming in from local elections held in Georgia on Saturday, 2 October and it appears that the country is split in half between those supporting the ruling Georgian Dream party and others supporting opposition parties.
Elections will have to go to a second round because none of the contestants secured the necessary 50% in the Mayoral elections in the five self-governing major cities: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti and Rustavi.
Early results from 1446 out of 3743 precincts show that the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) has secured 48.56%, confirming its position as the largest party. The main opposition party - United National Movement (UNM) won 31.23% - its best vote in a national poll since it lost power in 2012. Other opposition parties secured the rest of the vote, with the newly formed party "For Georgia", led by prime minister Giorgi Gakharia emerging a third force, securing around 8% of the vote so far. Results are still coming in.
1,815,767 voters took part in the elections, which is 51.92% of the total number of voters.
Commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that Georgian politics has become increasingly polorised, and the results show a split in the middle between government and opposition. If opposition parties can provide a united position in the second round of the local elections it is quite possible that most of Georgia's main cities will be governed by the opposition by the end of the month, considerably reducing the hold of the ruling party on the leverages of power.
So far the processes around the local elections have remained largely peaceful. It is not yet clear what impact the return and subsequent arrest of former president Mikheil Saakashvili has made on the results. It is however likely that Georgian politics are set for a major re-calibration following this weekend's poll.
photo: Local elections were held in Georgia on 2 October 2021. New technologies were piloted in the Krtsanisi constituency, which are likely to be used in future polls nation wide (picture courtesy of the Central Elections Commission of Georgia)