Kaladze Braces for Tbilisi Runoff

With 96.23% of precincts counted in Tbilisi, incumbent Mayor Kakha Kaladze is heading for a runoff after receiving 44.96% of votes, falling short of the threshold needed to secure a first-round victory against Nika Melia of the United National Movement, the runner-up.

“I respect the will of the voters and any decision Tbilisites make in front of the ballot box,” stated mayoral hopeful Kaladze today. “Maybe I underdelivered in the process, maybe we could not pay sufficient attention to every relevant issue during our work. I apologize.”

Incumbent Kaladze said he would not go into details about the reasons for failing to secure a first-round victory, whether it was the “tense political situation” or splitting of votes by other candidates, alluding to former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who quit the GD in February, and made a bid for Tbilisi mayoral seat.

The ruling Georgian Dream party candidate noted he is ready to participate in the second round, to be held on October 30, adding: “I am sure, with the backing and support of Tbilisi residents we will be able to win.”

The incumbent Mayor drew attention to his party receiving around 48% in proportional vote across Georgia, as per preliminary results, and stressed the GD also received 29 seats in Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo).

Georgian Dream’s Kaladze secured a narrow first-round victory in the Tbilisi mayoral race of 2017, receiving 51.09% of the vote and defeating then-independent Aleko Elisashvili, who had 17.48%, and United National Movement’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate Zaal Udumashvili, who had 16.59%.

This year, UNM mayoral hopeful, Nika Melia, also backed by European Georgia, Droa and Girchi – More Freedom parties, received 33.94% of votes, as per preliminary results.

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