Georgian Dream's big failure: Salome Zurabishvili does not get even 40%
None of the Georgian presidential candidates has gathered more than 50% in the first round, according to information published by the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) today after counting votes from 99.57% of polling stations.
According to the CEC, independent candidate Salome Zurabishvili, supported by the ruling party Georgian Dream at the election, secured 38.66%, backed by about 615,000 voters. In the second round she will compete with candidate of the former ruling party United National Movement Grigol Vashadze, who gained about 600,000 votes (37.7%).
Candidate of the European Georgia party David Bakradze is ranked third, with about 175,000 votes (10.97%). Leader of the Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili was backed by 3.76% of voters.
It was announced that the second round of the presidential election will be held not later than on December 2, 2018.
The political scientist Giorgi Nodia, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the results of the first round increase Grigol Vashadze's chance to win, because now he will be supported by the United National Movement electorate, who voted for David Bakradze. "I think that now Vashadze is a favorite, Bakradze has already called on his supporters to vote for Vashadze. Let's say, the myth that the ruling party is very strong and it is impossible to defeat it, was debunked yesterday," he said.
According to the expert, in this way the population expressed dissatisfaction with the ineffectiveness of the Georgian Dream's work, staging a protest vote against the pro-government candidate. "But, on the other hand, the choice of the candidate was very unfortunate, Salome Zurabishvili is a very weak candidate chosen by Ivanishvili against the will of his party. Now this casts doubt on his ability to be the leader of Georgia. In addition, this is a big victory for Mikhail Saakashvili since Vashadze is his personal candidate," Nodia stressed.
The head of the Institute of Management Strategy, Petre Mamradze, in turn, called the results of the first round catastrophic. "The ruling group Georgian Dream used a huge administrative and financial resource to support Zurabishvili, its campaign was about 4 times more expensive than Vashadze's campaign, but against this background, Saakashvili’s supporters got almost as much as Zurabishvili. That is, if you subtract Dream's resources, it turns out that Zurabishvili lost with a crushing score. The UNM current plan is Vashadze’s victory and an announcement that it was a real plebiscite, after which the demand for extraordinary parliamentary elections will be announced. In the second round, the Georgian Dream's resources will most likely win, but now it is no longer as guaranteed as before," he admitted.
"The voting revealed extreme irritation of the population by the Georgian Dream's actions. Ivanishvili considers such actions effective, but in fact they only added fuel to the fire. I support Ivanishvili as a very positive force for Georgia, but his proteges recently gave completely catastrophic interviews. If Ivanishvili continue to think that it's not his people who are to blame, but Saakashvili’s Rustavi-2 TV channel, then the Georgian Dream's problems will only get deeper. We can hope that he will teach the right lesson from the first round of elections, because the alternative is terrible - Saakashvili's henchmen will destroy the nation," Petre Mamradze concluded.