The ruling Georgian dream party led the parliamentary elections in Georgia with a share of the vote of 54.7 percent, announced the Central Election Commission on Saturday and cited the results of almost a third of the polling stations.
However, the opposition said they would not accept these results.
Tamar Zhvania, the head of CEC, told reporters that the 28 percent vote at the polling stations showed the Georgian dream at the top, while the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), received 23.6 percent of the vote.
The preliminary results did not include figures from major districts.
The ruling party, founded by Georgia’s richest man, Bidzina Ivanishvili, declared victory shortly after elections in the South Caucasus closed on Saturday and four exit elections put them in first place in a close race.
“Georgia made me a worthy choice, and this Georgian dream I started is a worthy dream. The Georgian voters who would not make the wrong choice today expressed their support for worthy people, ”Ivanishvili told a crowd of supporters in the capital, Tiblisi.
However, it was not clear whether the ruling party would get the votes it takes to form a one-party government.
“Not a real picture”
The opposition said the results were inconsistent with reality.
“This is not an actual picture and these results do not reflect the will of the Georgians,” said David Kirtadze, a member of the UNM who tried to interrupt the CEC chair when it released preliminary results. He was forced out of the conference room by guards.
Opposition leaders said they would not accept the number of votes and held consultations on further action.
“We are examining all possible scenarios, we will not accept these results,” Sergi Kapanadze, opposition leader of the European Georgia Party, told reporters.
Zaal Udumashvili, one of the leaders of the United National Movement Party, gestures as fellow party members gather outside the parliament building after final elections were announced during the general election in Tbilisi, Georgia, on October 31, 2020 [Irakli Gedenidze/ Reuters]The opposition claimed they had received enough votes overall to form a coalition.
More than 30 opposition parties, led by the UNM, the largest and strongest opposition power, announced on Friday that they would not enter into a coalition with the ruling party after the elections.
Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, who reported from Tiblisi, said most voters could cast their ballots “freely and safely” despite some violent scenes between supporters of rival parties on Saturday.
He added, “Georgia is likely to have a more diverse parliament, but politicians now need to focus on immediate challenges – rising COVID infections and dire economic outlook.”
The country’s economy has been hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus and the government is forecasting a 4 percent decline in 2020.
The government’s popularity has declined, and opponents accuse it of ill-treating the economy, selective justice, weak foreign policy and combating dissent with the violent dispersal of protests.
Critics said Ivanishvili, who holds no government office, runs the South Caucasus country of 3.7 million people behind the scenes, an accusation that has been denied by Georgian Dream, who has ruled for two consecutive terms.
A fifth of Georgian territory is controlled by pro-Russian separatists after a brief war with Russia in 2008.
Both the government and the opposition would welcome Georgia joining the European Union and NATO, but Moscow would strongly oppose such moves. Georgian Dream also advocates closer ties with Russia.