Georgia's governing Georgian Dream party has claimed victory in the second round of municipal elections held on Saturday (30 October).
Data from the Central Elections Commission after all precincts had been counted shows that the Georgian Dream candidates won in 19 mayoral runoffs, including the capital, Tbilisi, as well as major cities including Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti.
The opposition United National Movement’s mayoral candidate won in Tsalenjikha.
In Tbilisi - where nearly half of those eligible to vote are located, the incumbent Mayor, Kakha Kaladze of Georgian Dream , won 55.603% (258,740 votes). Nika Melia, the candidate of the United National Movement secured 44.397% (206,598 votes). Results in other constituencies reflected a similar trend.
Leaders of the Georgian Dream party have described the elections, which many saw as a plebiscite on the government's popularity and legitimacy, as the dawn of a new beginning.
But the opposition is crying foul, accusing the government of stealing the elections and promising "a peaceful revolution" in the days to come.
For most Georgians, as well as for observers in the international community one thing is clear from the process of the last weeks. Georgia is at the moment a highly polorised and politically divided society, and the elections do not appear to have provided the closure that some had wanted, and hoped for.
photo: An election poster of Kakha Kaladze, the current Mayor of Tbilisi, who was re-elected on Saturday in the second round of voting in Municipal elections in Georgia (picture courtesy of OC media, Tbilisi)