An opposition movement led by a billionaire has claimed victory in Georgia’s parliamentary election.
Thousands of Georgian Dream coalition supporters took the streets of Tbilisi to celebrate although the official result remains in doubt.
Regardless of the final outcome, opposition leaders say they expect to have a significant presence in the make-up of the new parliament.
“I expect that we will get no less than 100 seats in the new (150 seat) parliament,” the coalition’s leader, wealthy tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, told a cheering crowd in Tbilisi. “I have achieved
what I have long been striving for.”
Sentiments shared by one of the movement’s MPs, David Usupashvili: “Our first task is to unite the society, the people, which have been divided for many years and especially this quite polarized electoral campaign divided the nation.”
President Mikheil Saakashvili’s ruling United National Movement could yet cling to power. A tense stand-off looms because Georgia’s electoral system allocates seats according to party lists and constituency wins.
Our correspondent in Tbilisi, Sergio Cantone, says Georgia still faces tough challenges over its future direction: “The electoral party night says a lot about the need for political and social change in the country. Will Georgia be able to take on and make the huge reforms needed on a domestic as well as an international political level? That is question to be answered by whomever will rule the country in the years to come”.