The opposition United National Movement party slammed the decision by Georgia’s ex-first lady Sandra Roelofs to withdraw from the second round contest for a majoritarian MP seat in Zugdidi single-mandate constituency.
Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s wife, Sandra Roelofs, who is also number two on UNM’s list of MP candidates, was defeated by 44.8% of votes in Zugdidi single-mandate constituency against GDDG’s Edisher Toloraia, who leads the race with 48.63% but failed to clear 50% threshold to win outright in the first round.
In the interview with Odishi News web portal released on October 23, Sandra Roelofs said that “her victory was stolen from her” and “against the background of this unfair, so called democratic elections” she should withdraw from race.
It is unknown so far whether Sandra Roelofs would take her seat in the Parliament under the proportional, party-list system.
MP Sergo Ratiani, National Movement’s executive secretary, expressed regret over the ex-first lady’s decision and described it as “damaging” for the party, which continues its struggle in the second round contests.
“The decision made by Sandra Roelofs is inadmissible. Moreover, it damages the campaign ahead of the second round runoffs,” lawmaker from UNM party, Givi Targamadze said.
Nika Melia, UNM’s chief of campaign and MP candidate, said that Sandra Roelofs has simply “abandoned” her voters.
All of them were among those members of UNM party, who said after meeting of the party’s main governing body, political council, on October 11 that its candidates would be contesting in the second round runoffs of majoritarian MP races and the party would 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.
In a Facebook post on October 23, ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili called on activists to respect his wife’s decision and said: “I have already noted once that it is up to each candidate to decide whether to run or not in the second round runoffs of rigged elections. Everyone has freedom of choice and Sandra made this decision without my involvement.”
Later Sandra Roelofs also responded to “unhealthy speculations” with a Facebook post saying that she notified the political council about her decision on October 11.
“Any indication that it was not my personal decision is deeply insulting for me… It is clear that my husband does not need my help to voice his own position,” she said. “Those persons, who try to portray that withdrawal from the second rounds is equal to refusal to struggle, are absolutely wrong.”
Although Sandra Roelofs announced about her withdrawal from the race, her name will still remain on ballot paper during the second round along with GDDG’s candidate.
After Roelofs’ withdrawal from race, UNM party will have to compete in 44 single-mandate constituencies in the second rounds with mostly GD’s majoritarian MP candidates.