Vote counting into Sunday’s local elections started after polling stations were closed at 8pm.
Central Election Commission (CEC) started releasing figures of summary protocols from Tbilisi’s polling stations. Results from 24 precincts out of total 774 in the capital city were available on CEC website as of 3am local time on Monday.
Meanwhile, exit polls commissioned by three Georgian national broadcasters gave comfortable lead to incumbent mayor Gigi Ugulava in the Tbilisi mayoral race.
Edison Research exit polls for Rustavi 2 TV and Imedi TV, in which Ugulava leads with 60%, results were based upon 12,951 interviews of voters randomly selected from a sample of 72 polling locations in Tbilisi. The response rate of voters who were selected to participate in the exit poll was 49%.
Irakli Alasania, leader of Alliance for Georgia, who according to exit polls is second, far behind Ugulava, said that now the most important was to protect each and every vote while tabulation process was underway. He said only official results would give a real picture of the elections.
Reports about electoral violations were coming mainly from the provinces. Several isolated cases of intimidation were also reported by local observers.
Davit Zourabichvili of the Republican Party, part of Alliance for Georgia, said while electoral violations were taking place in the provincial constituencies, voting was held smoothly in the capital city.
OSCE-led international observation mission will present its preliminary findings about the May 30 local elections at 2pm local time on Monday. The mission deployed 249 observers from more than 40 countries, including 41 long-term and 208 short-term observers.
The government’s inter-agency task force on free and fair elections said voting had proceeded “calmly and according to procedure” and no “significant violations” were reported.
“This successful execution of a free and fair election is a credit to the Georgian people, political parties, civil society, and the election administration,” the inter-agency group said in a statement.
Apart of Tbilisi mayor, elections were also held to elect 64 municipal councils for a four-year term.
Simultaneously with local elections, in three single-mandate constituencies voters were also electing lawmakers to fill three vacant seats in the Parliament. MP by-elections were held in Tbilisi’s Chugureti single-mandate, majoritarian constituency, as well as in two provincial constituencies of Ozurgeti western Georgia and Gurjaani in eastern region of Kakheti. These by-elections for three parliamentary seats will not influence the current power balance in the parliament, dominated by the ruling party.