Leaders of UNM opposition party said after polls closed in the June 15 local elections that “very low” voter turnout demonstrates that the Georgian Dream suffers “deep crisis of public trust”, and exit poll results, suggesting possibility of second round runoffs in some of the largest cities, show support to the ruling coalition is on decline.
Giga Bokeria, one of UNM’s leaders, said that low voter turnout was a “direct result of general atmosphere of violence, hatred, intimidation, and cynicism created by the government.”
He said that that contrary to predictions by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “puppet” PM Irakli Garibashvili that UNM would disappear off the political radar, the opposition party has actually improved its result since the presidential elections seven months ago. Bokeria said that according to exit poll results GD itself is suffering a “serious decline” in support. “I am sure this trend will continue,” Bokeria told Maestro TV.
MP Davit Bakradze, leader of UNM parliamentary minority group, said that “instead of imitating celebration” staged after the exit poll results were announced, the Georgian Dream should “learn lessons” from these elections.
“I do not understand what they are celebrating when almost 60% of voters did not turn out at polling station and by doing so they [voters] expressed protest,” Bakradze said, adding that these elections should be a clear signal to the authorities that voters are not satisfied with government’s policies.
“It will be regrettable if instead of learning this lesson, they will try to portray that everything is alright and it’s time for celebration now,” MP Bakradze said.
Gigi Ugulava, one of UNM’s leaders and chief of its campaign, said: “In the second round runoffs our society will show even more clearly to the authorities that it can’t continue like this anymore… and should substantially change its policies and it should give up cynical approach as if it has delivered with all of its promises.”
In a written statement UNM said that “a sharp fall in voter turnout illustrates deep crisis of public trust that the current Georgian government has fallen into.”
“Unfortunately, today’s elections were substantially impacted by undemocratic, deteriorated election environment marred with frequent violence, well-documented pressure on UNM candidates as well as statements by top government officials justifying violence.”
UNM described PM Garibashvili’s statement made after the exit polls were announced as “insistence that there will be no runoff in Tbilisi.” UNM said that such “insistence while all preconditions” for second round are in place is “inadequate and undemocratic.”
“This statement points to a possibility of using the pressure employed by the government in pre-election period upon the election administration,” UNM said.