Georgian legislative election, 2008

Parliamentary elections were held in Georgia on May 21 2008. [ [ Parliamentary Elections Set for May 21] . "". March 21 2008.] President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed a referendum on bringing them forward from October to April after the 2007 Georgian demonstrations. [ [ Georgia to hold early elections] BBC News, 8 November 2007] The referendum was held at the same time as the early presidential election on 5 January 2008; according to exit polls, voters were largely in favour of having the elections in spring. [ [ Saakashvili wins Georgia's presidential election - People's Daily Online ] ]

The Central Election Commission has registered 3,458,020 voters. [ [ Total Number of voters,] Central Election Commission, Georgia. Accessed on May 10 2008.] The election was observed by 14 international and 31 local organizations. [ [ The List of International Non-Governmental Organizations registered at the Central Election Commission of Georgia for May 21, 2008 Parliamentary Elections,] Central Election Commission, Georgia. Accessed on May 10 2008.] [ The List of local Non-Governmental Organizations registered at the Central Election Commission of Georgia for May 21, 2008 Parliamentary Elections,] Central Election Commission, Georgia. Accessed on May 10 2008.]

Pre-election process

The pre-election process has principally been monitored by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as well as several local watchdogs. The PACE observers have reported “little or no improvement” in the political climate since the January 5 presidential election which was held in the tense aftermath of the November 2007 political crisis and resulted in the reelection of Mikheil Saakashvili to his second term. The monitoring mission has noted that “the political climate is still dominated by a lack of trust and absence of constructive dialogue between the authorities and the opposition”, one result of this being “the failure of the electoral reform that the authorities and the opposition agreed upon in the aftermath of the November 2007 events.” [ Honouring of obligations and commitments by Georgia. Information "note by the co-rapporteurs on their fact-finding visit to Tbilisi (26-27 March 2008)".] Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, April 9 2008.]

The amendments to the election code passed by the Parliament in March 2008 took into account recommendations made by the PACE, such as abolition of the additional voters’ lists and voter registration on polling day; lowering of the election threshold from 7% to 5%; the simplification and clarification of election related complaints and appeals procedures; the introduction of party representation in the District Election Commissions. However, the PACE noted that a number of its other recommendations remained unaddressed.

This period has also witnessed significant reshuffle within the major political players. On February 29 2008, the moderate Republican Party of Georgia left the nine-party opposition coalition, which spearheaded anti-government protests in November 2007, announcing that they would run independently for the parliamentary election, targeting mainly moderate and undecided voters. [ [ New Opposition Configuration Emerges Ahead of Polls.] Civil Georgia, February 29 2008.] On the other hand, the opposition New Rights party, which had distanced themselves from the 2007 demonstrations, now joined the nine-party coalition under an election bloc named United Opposition–New Rights. [ [ Three Blocs, Nine Parties Run in Parliamentary Polls.] Civil Georgia, April 8 2008.]

Another key event, which sent shockwaves across Georgia’s political scene on April 21, 2008, was the refusal by Nino Burjanadze, the outgoing parliamentary chairwoman and Saakashvili’s ally, to run on the president-led United National Movement (UNM) ticket, citing an absence of consensus within the UNM leadership regarding the party list. [ [ Georgia: In Surprise Move, Burjanadze Says She Won't Seek Reelection] . Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 22 2008.]

Contending parties

Three election blocs and nine parties are contesting this election. These are: [ [ Party Lists.] Civil Georgia. April 24 2008.]

*United National Movement, current ruling party led by President Saakashvili;
*Joint Opposition: the National Council – New Rights, a bloc uniting a nine-party alliance (Freedom Movement, Conservative Party of Georgia, Party of Georgia, People's Party, Movement for United Georgia, National Forum, Georgia's Way, Georgian Troupe, On Our Own Party) with David Gamkrelidze's New Right which is led by the former presidential candidate and Saakashvili's principal rival Levan Gachechiladze;
*Republican Party of Georgia, led by Davit Usupashvili;
*Georgian Labour Party, led by Shalva Natelashvili;
*Christian-Democratic Movement, founded and led by the former Imedi TV journalist Giorgi Targamadze;
*Rightist Alliance – Topadze Industrialists, uniting Industry Will Save Georgia led by the beer magnate Gogi Topadze, the National Democratic Party and Unity led by the former Soviet Georgian leader Jumber Patiashvili;
*Union of Georgian TraditionalistsOur GeorgiaGeorgian Women Party for Justice and Equality alliance;
*Christian-Democratic Alliance, uniting the former presidential candidate Gia Maisashvili, the Green Party and Temur Shashiashvili, a former governor of Imereti region under ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze;
*The Georgian Politics, a party recently set up by Gocha Pipia, a member of the outgoing parliament;
*Our Country;
*National Party of Radical-Democrats of Georgia;
*Union of Georgian Sportsmen.

The Central Election Commission refused 37 political parties to register for the election for various irregularities in their submissions. [ [ List of the Parties which have been refused for the registration to participate in the upcoming Parliamentary Elections May 21, 2008.] Central Election Commission, Georgia. Accessed on May 10 2008.]


On May 5 2008, the United States-based company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner published results of the United National Movement-commissioned survey according to which the UNM had the support of 44 percent, compared to 12 percent for the United Opposition Council, 11 percent for the Christian Democratic Movement, 7 percent for the Labour Party of Georgia, and 4 percent for the Republican Party; 16 percent were undecided. [ [ Survey Shows United National Movement with Majority Support in Republic of Georgia Parliamentary Race,] Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. May 5 2008.]

On 22 May 2008, OSCE observers stated that the poll was an improvement from the presidential election held earlier that year, but that it was stilled marred by a number of imperfections. [ [ BBC NEWS | Europe | Concerns raised over Georgia poll ] ] Early results indicated that UNM had 63% and the United Opposition Council 13%, but the opposition's partial results from Tbilisi gave the UOC 40% and UNM 32%. The first results indicate that the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party also cleared the threshold. [ [ B92 - News - World - Georgian leader set for poll win ] ]

According to preliminary final results, the UNM got 59.5%, the UOC 17.7%, the CDM 8.3% and the Labour Party 7.6%. The UNM may thus have retained its two-thirds majority, but as full seat results are not yet available, this is not yet confirmed. [ [ Opposition in Georgien droht mit Parlamentsboykott « ] ] Turnout was 55%. [ [ Election commission: Saakashvili's party wins Georgian election - People's Daily Online ] ]

The Joint Opposition and the Labour Party have announced they will boycott parliament which held its inaugural session on June 7 2008, while the CDM refused to join them. [ [ Georgien: Opposition ruft zu Protesten auf « ] ] [ [ Opposition bloc to boycott Georgia's parliament to protest governing party's big election win - International Herald Tribune ] ]



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