Georgian legislative election, 2003

Parliamentary elections were held in the Republic of Georgia on November 2 2003. According to statistics released by the Georgian Election Commission, the elections were won by a combination of parties supporting President Eduard Shevardnadze.

National summary of votes and seats

Voters: 3,178,593* Valid votes cast: 1,909,215 60.1 ------------------------------------------------------------------- Party Votes % Seats ------------------------------------------------------------------- Burjanadze-Democrats 167,908 08.8 15 For a New Georgia 407,045 21.3 38 Labour Party 229,900 12.0 20 New Right Party 140,259 07.3 12 Union of Georgia's Democratic Revival 359,769 18.8 33 National Movement 345,197 18.1 32 Others 259,137 13.6 - ------------------------------------------------------------------- Total 1,909,215 150 -------------------------------------------------------------------

* More recent figures show the true electorate to be about 2,130,000 (source: information of the Central Election Commission from January 5 2004).

"For a New Georgia" was the electoral bloc that supported President Eduard Shevardnadze. The Revival Party was an ally of Shevardnadze. The National Movement (NM) was the party of opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili.

These results were annulled by the Georgia Supreme Court after the "Revolution of Roses" (sometimes incorrectly cited as "Rose Revolution") on November 25, 2003, following allegations of widespread electoral fraud and large public protests which led to the resignation of Shevardnadze.

A new election was held on March 28, 2004.

Fraud allegations

Supporting the allegations of electoral fraud were exit polls conducted by an American company, Global Strategy, which showed that the opposition had won by a large margin, with the National Movement coming first with 20% and the government block polling only 14% of the vote.

An international mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declared that the election fell short of international standards.

"These elections have, regrettably, been insufficient to enhance the credibility of either the electoral or the democratic process," said Bruce George, special co-ordinator of the OSCE chairman-in-office.

Some 450 international observers from 43 countries monitored the polls in one of the largest and longest election observation missions in the OSCE's history. Georgian analysts described the vote as "the messiest and most chaotic election" the country has ever had.

"The government did everything to make this election chaotic. I think there were also (those in) government (who) did not want this election to be orderly because they knew they would lose it," said Ghia Nodia of the Caucasus Institute for Democracy and Development.

Reports of violence, voter intimidation and ballot box stuffing began coming in shortly after the polling stations opened. The biggest problem, however, was the voter lists prepared by the Georgian government.

Mikhail Saakashvili was among tens of thousands who were denied the right to vote. His name, along with names of many thousands across the country, was missing from the voter list prepared by the Georgian government. Entire neighborhoods were mysteriously removed from the voter list in the areas where opposition was likely to do well.

References

* [http://www.osce.org/item/7881.html "Georgian parliamentary elections marred by confusion over voter lists"] , OSCE, 3 November 2003
* [http://www.osce.org/documents/html/pdftohtml/1593_en.pdf.html "Post-election interim report"] , OSCE, 25 November 2003


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