UNM opposition party, which says that the October 8 parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair, announced after meeting of its main governing body, political council, late on Tuesday evening, that its candidates will be contesting in the second round runoffs of majoritarian MP races and the party will also enter the Parliament.
While Georgia’s ex-president and founder of UNM, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, was in favor of the boycott, the option was unacceptable for some other leaders of the party.
MP Davit Bakradze, who is number one on UNM’s party list of MP candidates and slated to be re-elected in the new parliament, told journalists after the meeting of political council that the UNM should not let ex-PM and founder of ruling GDDG party Bidzina Ivanishvili to establish “one-party rule” in Georgia; he also said that the UNM cannot say no to “such instrument of a political struggle as Parliament.”
“Therefore, we have decided that despite of unequal conditions, despite of ballot rigging and pressure and although the second rounds will also be conducted in tough struggle, we accept this challenge and the party will participate in the second rounds and the party will also enter the Parliament and participate in parliamentary work,” Bakradze said.
“Of course there are different views in the party and that’s the strength of UNM, but despite of these differences, like a civilized, European party, we can discuss, debate and convince each other with arguments and reach a single, agreed decision,” he said.
“There were differences on this issue, but we proved once again that this party is based on democratic principles, where decisions are made collectively through discussions and after that all the members of the party follow these decisions,” Bakradze added.
Second round runoffs for majoritarian MP seats are expected in 50 out of total 73 single-mandate constituencies, according to preliminary results of the October 8 parliamentary elections.
This, however, is not yet a final result and it may change as returns from several precincts are disputed and the election administration is reviewing complaints.
Candidates from GDDG ruling party, according to these preliminary results, are winning outright in the first round in 23 single-mandate constituencies.
GDDG and UNM candidates are expected to face each other in the runoffs in 44 districts.
In one district (Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda) UNM’s contender for the majoritarian seat is facing an independent candidate, who is backed by the GDDG.