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Usupashvili’s Post-Election Assessments
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Oct.'16 / 17:26

Speaker of the outgoing Parliament, Davit Usupashvili, said that despite of flaws, there is no reason to question legitimacy of the October 8 parliamentary elections.

Usupashvili’s Republican Party received 1.55% of votes in proportional, party-list nationwide vote, failing to clear 5% threshold required for party to enter the parliament.

Usupashvili also lost the race for a majoritarian MP seat in a single-mandate constituency in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo district, receiving 11.7% of votes, behind UNM’s Sevdia Ugrekhelidze, who has 17.2% and GDDG’s Levan Gogichaishvili, who has 46.89%; the two latter will face each other in the second round.

“There is no reason whatsoever to question legitimacy of electoral process or election results. Elections are valid. Elections have yet to be completed as runoffs will be in most of the [majoritarian single-mandate] districts,” Usupashvili told journalists on October 10.

“We will have new Parliament and new political reality,” he said.

“All the major election stakeholders mostly coped with their duties and therefore in overall these elections can be considered as a step forward, but I would wish more organized process in this regard – it would have helped us to make a better progress,” he added.

“There clearly was a lack of qualification in the work of the election administration in many cases and it has caused certain flaws in vote count process and in the process of releasing election results,” he said.

Usupashvili suggested that the Central Election Commission (CEC) first posted on its website vote tallies selectively from those precincts, where results were coinciding with those of exit polls commissioned jointly by the four television stations, giving GDDG ruling party about 53% of votes. As returns from more precincts were coming in, the ruling party’s share of votes was going down and now, based on results from all but three precincts, it has 48.65%.

“These are all flaws that should be addressed, but these do not in any way suggest that elections were illegitimate – voters have the possibility to make choice freely,” Usupashvili said.

“I don’t think we will have an easy Parliament and easy political life. Those concerns I was sharing with you ahead of the elections, turned to be correct – the main factor that determined these results of the elections was a cocktail offered to voters jointly by GDDG and UNM,” Usupashvili said, adding that the two major parties offered a campaign based on “hatred”.

“As the Speaker of the Parliament I want to address leaders of these two parties – Giorgi Kvirikashvili [PM, who chairs GDDG] and Davit Bakradze [number one on UNM’s party list of MP candidates]. A lot will depend on them in terms of how the political process develops. I want to believe that they will have business-like relations and that political competition will not go beyond the civilized norms,” Usupashvili said.

“I know both of them and I believe that Giorgi and Davit will find strength which is so necessary for this country to complete electoral process in competitive and peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

“One of the goals of the next political cycle should be uniting efforts of those forces, which see Georgia’s development in the European choice not only with its form, but with its substance,” Usupashvili said and also suggested that such forces were “scattered in portions in different political parties.”

Commenting on possible constitutional majority that GDDG may win in the new Parliament, Usupashvili said: “It is easy to make mistakes when one holds constitutional majority.”

Georgia’s past experience, he said, shows that the constitutional majority is “the easiest way to make mistakes.”

“That’s dangerous and that’s what our own history shows,” he said.

GDDG has a chance of winning three-fourths super-majority in the 150-member Parliament – 113 seats, required to pass constitutional amendments, if the ruling party’s candidates win in roughly about 46 out of 50 single-mandate constituencies, where race for majoritarian MP seat went into second round.

“I can understand excitement of my colleagues from the Georgian Dream, who are proudly declaring that they will have the constitutional majority as if climbing Mount Everest; but after climbing Everest, one should also know how to descend from there unharmed,” Usupashvili said.
He also expressed regret that Irakli Alasania’s Free Democrats party failed to clear 5% threshold.

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