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Two-Party Parliament Elected in Adjara
/ 21 Jun.'04 / 17:12
Nino Khutsidze, Civil Georgia

Levan Varshalomidze will become
Adjarian Prime Minister after the
success of Saakashvili’s party.
As anticipated President Saakashvili’s supporter Victorious Adjara won a landslide victory with 75% of votes in June 20 local elections in Adjara Autonomous Republic, according to the early official results.

Chairman of the Adjarian Supreme Election Commission (SEC) Irakli Pagava said that candidates nominated by the Victorious Adjara also won elections in all 12 single-mandate constituencies; as a result President Saakashvili’s supporters would allocate most of the mandates in the 30-seat Adjarian legislative body – the Supreme Council. 12 seats in the Adjarian parliament are allocated through the single-mandate constituencies and 18 – through the proportional party list system.

The Republican Party, which was a major contender to pro-Saakashvili party and the only opposition force to ex-Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze for most of the past decade, gained only 9% support, according to the early official results.

Other 8 parties running for the seats in the Supreme Council failed to clear 7% threshold.

“These are preliminary results. According to the law the election commission has to announce final results within 18 days after the elections; however we will try to publish final vote tally earlier,” Irakli Pagava, the Chairman of the SEC told reporters.

Election watchdog organization Fair Elections Foundation (FEF) announced the results of alternative vote tabulation conducted at 250 precincts of Adjara Autonomous Republic out of total 301 polling stations, earlier on June 21.

Results by the FEF suggest that Saakashvili’s Victorious Adjara received 68,58%, while the Republican party 13,62% support; the Industry will Save Georgia comes on the third place with 5%; Democratic Truth Party – 4% and the Labor Party with 1%; Other parties received less than 1% of votes.

The Republican Party accused the authorities of “mass ballot-rigging.” Revelry between the Republicans and the Victorious Adjara even grew into the fist-fighting at one of the precincts of Akhalsheni village.
 
The Republicans, which are in the coalition with the ruling National Movement-Democrats party in the Georgian Parliament run in the Adjarian elections separately. Leader of the Republican Party, MP Davit Berdzenishvili said, if it is proved that the authorities have rigged the ballot, the Republicans may cease any cooperation with the ruling party in the Parliament.
 
“The Georgian government failed democracy test in Adjara, as the elections were totally falsified. We will convene the Republican Party’s council [governing body] and decide whether to continue cooperation with the ruling party. I do not think it will be appropriate to cooperate with ballot-riggers,” MP Davit Berdzenishvili, the leader of Republican Party told Georgian state radio station on June 21.

The local and international observers also reported procedural violations during and before the elections, however noted that these violations could not influence the final results of the polls.

“Basically procedural violations were reported, which will not have any serious influence on final results of the elections. However, our observers have already sent claims to the precinct commissions. In the whole, the elections were held in a normal atmosphere,” Head of the Fair Elections Foundation Zaza Daraselia told Civil Georgia.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), which observed the Adjara elections, claimed that the representatives from the ruling party or other officials often appeared at the polling stations and interfered in the process of voting. Chief of GYLA Tina Khidasheli was even barred from entering one of the polling stations.
 
Observers reported numerous violations on the elections day and during the vote tabulation. However, the violations were not important enough to seriously influence the election results.
 
Irakli Pagava said, particular violations were reported at several polling stations, however “this will not become the ground for cancellation of results at these polling stations.”

The 8-member observation delegation from the Council of Europe elections says that the June 20 polls demonstrated progress over previous local elections in Adjara. The Council of Europe will publish a final report over the June 20 elections a month later.

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