Oct. 5, 2012, midnight
Georgian citizens voted in a parliamentary election on October 1, 2012, ending the 8-year rule of President Mikhael SAAKASHVILI’s United National Movement (UNM). The victory of opposition leader Bidzina IVANISHVILI’s Georgian Dream coalition paves the way for the first democratic transfer of political power in Georgia.
The Georgian parliament (Sakartvelos Parlamenti ) has a total of 150 seats. 77 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation (PR) system to serve four-year terms. The remaining 73 members are elected by majority vote in single-member districts to serve four -year terms.
For both single member and closed-list systems, the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) published preliminary results for 3,582 of 3,612 precincts for the closed list system (99 percent) and 3,509 of 3,612 precincts for single member districts (97 percent).
According to the CEC, in the party list system the Georgian Dream won 55 percent of seats, followed by the UNM at 40 percent. In the single member districts, out of the 64 that have been counted, the UNM won a majority in 35.
SAAKASHVILI officially conceded defeat on October 2, vowing to cooperate with the opposition as a new minority group in parliament. Yet with another year left to his presidency, there have been calls for his immediate resignation within the opposition. IVANISHVILI denies this was a demand or ultimatum.
The elections were also significant because the winning faction will appoint the new Prime Minister as part of constitutional amendments set to take effect in 2013, and who will enjoy increased powers vis-à-vis the Georgian president after the end of SAAKASHVILI’S term in 2013. In spite of such high stakes for the parties involved, the CEC reports that election day was peaceful. International monitors like the OSCE noted some isolated episodes of violence and voter intimidation, including the detention of opposition supporters and activists, but still maintains the elections were mostly competitive and free, a sentiment widely echoed by the international community.