The party of Georgia’s president is heading for victory in the country’s local elections, according to an exit poll.
It is a major success for Mikhail Saakashvili whose popularity has plummeted since Georgia’s defeat in the war with Russia two years ago.
The outcome is also good for Gigi Ugulava, the ruling party’s mayor of the capital Tbilisi.
He won the city’s first election for the post and will now be favourite to succeed Saakashvili who is due to step down in 2013 after a decade in power.
Ugulava’s closest challenger, Irakly Alasania, says he is unlikely to contest the results. After voting he expressed hope that the government will introduce changes.
One of those changes might be relations with Russia which remain fraught over the rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.