In the second round of local elections in Georgia, the opposition won only one of 20 municipalities.
Mikheil Saakashvili returned to Georgia and even went to jail – all for the sake of winning the opposition in local elections. But even such efforts were in vain – the party of the ex-president was in for a deafening failure. Why did the Georgians not believe in Saakashvili?
Second chance didn’t work
Having lost the first round of local elections, the Georgian opposition, and first of all, Saakashvili’s United National Movement, had a chance for revenge in the second. Opposition candidates reached the second round in all major cities of the country, and in three (Batumi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi) they were ahead of the authorities.
This gave a chance that the political crisis in the country will at least turn into a civilized form – the opposition will win several posts of mayor and thanks to them will be able not only to attack the authorities, but also to offer an alternative. However, the second round of local elections, which took place on October 30, destroyed the chances for such a scenario.
The ruling party won a victory in all cities, even in those where, according to the results of the first round, the opposition was in the lead. The opposition is already claiming falsification of these results and a stolen victory, preparing to defend the election results.
The capital has traditionally become the epicenter of the electoral race. In Tbilisi, according to the CEC, almost half a million voters voted in the second round.
According to preliminary data, in Tbilisi, a candidate for mayor from the ruling party, formerly famous footballer Kakha Kaladze wins and remains as mayor. He received almost 56% of the vote. 44% of voters voted for his rival, UNM chairman Niku Melia.
The only exception where the opposition candidate wins is the Tsalenjikha municipality in western Georgia. Here, UNM candidate Georgy Kharchilava is ahead of his rival from the ruling party Gogu Gulerdava by about two percent.
The street will speak
It seems that a new street confrontation between the authorities and the opposition is becoming inevitable. “I promise that the fight will be uncompromising,” Nika Melia said. In addition, there remains an intrigue around the future of Saakashvili, who continues to starve in prison. The opposition has nowhere to retreat.
“Of course, the Saakashvili factor played a very serious role. Supporters of both parties mobilized as much as possible. But Saakashvili is yesterday. Therefore, as long as the opposition is headed by the United National Movement – the party founded by Saakashvili, the opposition is doomed to lose. This is a mistake. They should be ordinary participants in the process, and not play the main role,” – said the expert on the Caucasus Mamuka Areshidze.
Something similar happened in Georgia a year ago – after the parliamentary elections, the results of which, according to the opposition, were rigged. But then the situation was stabilized thanks to the mediation of the EU. However, now that the ruling Georgian party has managed to significantly worsen relations with the West, the chances of such mediation look much less. And accordingly, Georgia is almost doomed to a new confrontation.