Georgian presidential election earns high praise

By bne IntelliNews October 29, 2013

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International observers have praised Georgia's October 27 presidential election. The vote, which resulted in a landslide victory for Georgian Dream candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili, sets a new standard for democracy in the region, they suggest.

The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said the election was "well administered" and respected fundamental freedoms, according to a statement released the day following the vote.

"In a positive and transparent election, the Georgian people have confirmed last year's historic transfer of power ... This clean election following a political cohabitation tells me that Georgia's democracy is maturing," said Joao Soares, the leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission.

According to the OSCE's post-election report, Georgia's Central Election Commission (CEC) managed preparations for the election "in a professional, transparent and timely manner". The report also noted that the media provided balanced coverage of the main candidates.

"Yesterday's election demonstrated the Georgian people's commitment to the democratic process. That process was conducted professionally and transparently in an amicable and constructive environment," said Mati Raidma, head of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation. "Essentially, what we observed yesterday was a European election."

Preliminary results released on October 28 give Margvelashvili a clear victory in the first round of voting, with 63.34% of votes cast. Davit Bakradze, the candidate for outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM), in second place with 21.15%, followed by former Saakashvili ally turned opposition politician Nino Burjanadze with 9.66%.

Davit Bakradze, the candidate for outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM), in second place with 21.15%, followed by former Saakashvili ally turned opposition politician Nino Burjanadze with 9.66%.

Both Bakradze and Saakashvili have said they will respect the result. "Georgian voters have spoken and I want to tell everyone who is unhappy with these results we should all respect the majority's opinion because the majority resolves such issues in a democracy," Saakashvili said after preliminary results were announced.

Another observer suggested the vote has set a new standard for the Caucasus neighbourhood. "These elections are an important achievement for the country and for the entire South Caucasus region," said Meritxell Mateu Pi, head of a delegation representing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

However, the PACE representative also spoke of "regret that two Russian members of our delegation were not able to participate in this mission." At the same time, Moscow will not be happy to hear that the positive assessments are only likely to encourage the rapport between Georgia and the EU.

"This was an important day for the country - the Vilnius Summit will take place in a month's time, where Georgia will have the opportunity to initial an association agreement with the European Union, as an important step on the path to European integration" said Krzysztof Lisek, Head of the European Parliament delegation.

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