Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili admits election loss

 

Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili has admitted his party has lost Georgia's parliamentary election

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President Mikheil Saakashvili has admitted his party has lost Georgia's parliamentary election, in a live TV announcement.

He said the Georgian Dream bloc of his main rival, billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, had won Monday's election.

Victory for Mr Ivanishvili means the first democratic transfer of power in Georgia's post-Soviet history.

Mr Ivanishvili said the "only right decision" would now be for Mr Saakashvili to resign.

While Mr Ivanishvili, 56, is set to become prime minister, his rival, who has led the country since 2003, is due to remain in power until presidential elections next year.

Analysis

This is a momentous day for Georgian democracy but a sad one for President Saakashvili.

It has been a fierce election campaign, with mudslinging on both sides.

There were fears that the results would be disputed, which could have sparked unrest.

By admitting defeat, President Saakashvili is allowing a peaceful transition of power. And for the first time in modern Georgia's history, a change of government is the result of a peaceful election, rather than a revolution.

Western observers are calling these the most credible elections Georgia has ever known.

Mr Saakashvili's party will be in opposition, instead of enjoying the huge majority it has been used to for the past nine years.

And some voters will feel worried about this new government. Mr Ivanishvili is suspected by some of having links to the Kremlin.

Under agreed reforms, the parliament and prime minister will acquire greater powers than the president after that election.

With results in from 72% of polling stations, Georgian Dream led the party list vote, which accounts for 77 of the 150 seats, with 54% of the vote. The president's United National Movement was on 41%.

The rest of the seats are made up of 73 constituencies elected by a first-past-the-post vote.

President Saakashvili said it was clear that Georgian Dream had won a majority.

Earlier Mr Ivanishvili, Georgia's richest man, had already declared victory.

In his TV address, Mr Saakashvili said he would respect the Georgian people's decision, and his party would become "an opposition force".

"It's clear from the preliminary results that the opposition has the lead and it should form the government - and I as president should help them with this."

The US congratulated Georgians on the "historic milestone" of their parliamentary election and praised the president's response to the result.

In a later news briefing, Mr Ivanishvili called on Mr Saakashvili to admit he would not be able to retain power, to resign and call a snap presidential election.

'Good relations'

Mr Saakashvili, a pro-Western leader who champions the free market, has warned that the Georgian Dream bloc will move Georgia away from the West and back into Moscow's sphere of influence. Russia defeated Georgian forces in a brief war in 2008.

But in his briefing Mr Ivanishvili said both normalisation of relations with Russia and membership of Nato would be pursued.

Bidzina Ivanishvili with supporters, 1 Oct 12 Mr Ivanishvili celebrated with his supporters in Tbilisi on Monday night

"If you ask me 'America or Russia?', I say we need to have good relations with everybody," Mr Ivanishvili said according to AFP news agency.

Mr Ivanishvili made his fortune in Russia in the early 1990s, with stakes in the metals industry, banking and later property, including hotels. Forbes business website estimates his wealth at $6.4bn (£4bn).

His success was welcomed in Moscow where Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said it would mean more "constructive forces" entering parliament.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, deputy head of the parliament's international affairs committee in Moscow, said that in the eyes of both Mr Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin the Georgian president was a war criminal.

"Anything that would keep Saakashvili further away from the instruments of power is a plus for Russian-Georgian relations."

Landmark for Georgia

The BBC's Damien McGuinness in Tbilisi says it is a momentous day for Georgia - a day which strengthens the country's democratic credentials. Georgia has experienced much political turmoil since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The ugly election campaign had polarised the country and there were fears that the results would be disputed, our correspondent says.

Observers from the European security organisation OSCE said that "despite a very polarising campaign the Georgian people have freely expressed their will".

Georgia's Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said there had been no grave violations during the voting.

More than half of the country's population has no proper job. Older and poorer Georgians, in particular, are struggling and some feel nostalgic about the Soviet Union.

The OSCE said the election process had "shown a healthy respect for fundamental freedoms... and we expect the final count will reflect the choice of the voters".

However, the statement regretted "detentions and fines of mostly opposition-affiliated campaigners" during the campaign.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 99.

    no one nows wath happening after 1years, in 2013 year..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    Great! Let him go back to the USA and join the Tea Party!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 97.

    Dear BBC,

    I have been very sad reading your articles before elections and every time seeing at the end that young voters are for Saakashvili. When in fact, it was young people and students that turned this election away from the president during massive protests! I would kindly appreciate to see how these conclusions usually comes to us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 96.

    As a Georgian national and a passive observer of 2012 elections (not member of any political party or movement) can say that despite of all existing difficulties country is undeniably moving to the right direction. Saakashvili is far to be called a perfect leader but he definitely changed the country.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 95.

    92 Alexius : We should export him to U$A to advise the next administration because corruption is rampant in Congress and the House
    Mitt Romney (hopefully) will loose his bid to get into the White House & the Dems will win back control of the Congress at least
    That's the only way for U$A to survive
    GOP extremists are so far right they lost sight of the goal
    which is supposed to be "For The People"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    93 allfortruth : Do you honestly think you can blame everything on the Big Boogeyman U$A
    That is childish in my opinion. Although I have to admit I tend to blame almost everything on Big Banks
    Corruption
    Gambling with peoples 401K
    Bundling worthless mortgages
    Fixing Libor rates
    I think they are responsible for a lot of corruption as well, right along with Big Oil & Pharmaceutical Corporations!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 93.

    Americans are responsible for the mess called Saakashvili and they are just cleaning it up; that's all. Thanks Uncle Sam!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 92.

    There is a real democracy in Georgia. The peaceful transition of power from the ruling party to the opposition gives proof for it. This is totally impossible in another ex-Sovjet countries such as Russia, Belarus and etc.In 2003 Georgia was one of the most corrupted countries in the world,after 8 years of Saakashvili's rule corruption is significantly reduced, much less than that it is in Russia

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 91.

    I'm an expat living in Georgia and am pleased that the only post election trouble here is the incessant car horn blaring and flag waving. The Georgian Dream has had a great celebration but it now needs to stay united and actually transmit energy into policy. Supporters don't seem to know what its policies are, only that they are anti Saakashvilli. The real work is about to begin.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    So refreshing to hear this President congratulating his victor & honouring his peoples choice. A few of his Russian neighbours could learn from him...as well as Venezuela, Iran, Syria & the rest in the world who are megalomaniac potentates. I now hope this President goes the whole way & calls immediate elections to cement his people's desire for democracy. For it's the best choice of two futures!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 89.

    These former incorporated pathetic republics of the defunct USSR are going through an identity crisis. Do they want to remain the manipulated children of 'Mother Russia'? Do they want to be truely independent in all aspects including foreign relations? What and who are they do they themselves know? Their institutions are undermined by the Kremlin in favor of Russia's larger 'sphere'. Slaves?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 88.

    Saakashvili did some bad things for Georgia, and a lot of good things; yet his acknowledgement of the defeat should be viewed as his biggest contribution to the betterment of Georgian people. BTW: Congrats Mr. Ivanishvili. But no going back to Russia!!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 87.

    I am in a nation to the southeast of Georgia with benefits of oil and gas. I am delighted for a peaceful transition of government. I pray for the success of Georgian Democracy and for the people and for a good government that is not corrupt. Mostly, I pray that the example of Georgia is able to be expressed in other nations in this important but volatile region. Peace in the South Caucases!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 86.

    46: Serbia hasn't recognised Kosovo. Only a small number of countries have. Ironically, Ivanishvili's election might bring South Ossetia and Abhkazia back into the Georgian fold, as he is much more likely to restore relations and make concessions that Saakashvili was unwilling to make. Unfortunately, billionaires are not generally paragons of democratic process. Corruption now is the main worry.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 85.

    Finally a fair election in a country that needs it more than any other. Hopefully this can help the population recover some prosperity this is the post important thing not who is a puppet of whom.
    Is Georgia part of the EU ? Coz I seem to remember the last time I saw that guy make an announcement he had an NATO flag behind him while he was chewing his tie

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    This fool made a very good attempt at getting World War 3 started. Glad he's gone, now maybe we can find some criminal charges to throw at him as well.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    8 plus years is a long time to run a country & as long as Russian tanks stay out its all looking good.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    Another puppet of Putin's being elected as president, well done Russia.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 81.

    @shahid khan
    Only corrupt leaders and dictators have a place in politics anywhere on earth. The game is to dirty for honest people to win

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 80.

    @69.

    ''So WESTERNIZATION is the choice of Georgian people and no politicians can change this course!!!''

    Bit too late. Should have done it 30 years ago. What's the point in westernisation when the West is falling apart?

 

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