Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili admits election loss

 

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

Related Stories

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.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 18.

    8. helo thar
    "“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill"

    No context. Besides which, Churchill was the biggest proponent of the democratic process you can imagine. He was the one who said it was "the worst form of governance apart from all the other ones", or words to that effect.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    Will be interesting to see if voter support for NATO membership has changed as well. It will be an interesting dilemma for Ivanishvili, otherwise.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    "his main rival, billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, had won Monday's election."

    - it seems cash has a very manipulative effect on democracy

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 15.

    I appreciate all of your comments but as Georgian I want to add.

    First of all there is no fair that Georgia will change it's Pro Western attitude to Pro Russian. We hope that new government will stabilize relations to Russia(including export in Russia).
    Secondly, Most important is that we changed government with elections.It means we passed exam of democracy. this is reason why I am proud now

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 14.

    Damien McGuinness BBC News, Tbilisi
    "And some voters will feel worried about this new government. Mr Ivanishvili is suspected by some of having links to the Kremlin."

    Oh no, not the Kremlin! They spend all their time drinking vodka and playing Russian roulette, don't they? That is, when they're not at their Communist meetings and eating children..

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 13.

    'More than half of the country's population has no proper job.'

    So is this a vote for a man worth 20% of Georgia's GDP, or a protest against unemployment and poverty? Hopefully this billionaire leader will have a more notable track record in job creation than others, and will lead by investing his wealth in Georgia's latent mental capital and talent.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 12.

    There are many lessons to be learned from the U$A & the EU
    Learn & do not count them out
    Having close ties with Russia may be very sensible
    It's the caliber of the leaders that are chosen that counts
    Beware the empty promises of leaders that chase a personal dream and care nothing for the country
    Always demand details, open debate & you will all have a chance for a great future
    And Work Together!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 11.

    "And for the first time in modern Georgia's history, a change of government is the result of a peaceful election...."

    And most likely the last.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 9.

    Democracy is a double edged sword
    The future will be a learning process for the voters as well as the officials
    We can hope that the press will do the right thing
    Give the voters the facts,
    Call out liars on both sides
    When the people are told the truth Democracy will work
    Moral & Ethical standards are integral
    & should be treasured by all
    Fairness in Taxation is a biggie too
    Good Luck Georgians

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 8.

    “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 7.

    The Western leaders and the Int'l Community double standards and mockery policies made the Eelam Tamils as slaves in their own land. Its time for Saakashvili to move out. Europe is a disaster! American Capitalism is a failure and is now cracking. When policies are not made in the best interest of log term benefits, it is only helping the criminals, greedy and lazy ones. Only God can help us!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    A billionaire national leader, 2nd only in awfulness to a military leader. And pro-Russian to boot. In terms of democracy Georgia are the exception that prove the rule.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 5.

    The frightening thing is, they will probably be better off leaning towards Russia, rather than the EU!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 4.

    No matter what people say and despite still many shortcomings in their country, this was a huge step for Georgia towards building a truly democratic State and one almost yet unseen in the entire post-Soviet area (save the Baltic countries). I just hope that the politicians of their now former ruling party don't start ending up in prison like it happened in Ukraine...

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 3.

    Georgians should have thrown out this guy when he played into the hands of the Russians and got hammered. Western double standards, Welfare state and Capitalist policies will continue to create more problems to these nations due to the mockery politics. Western Political failures lead to less friendly nations and China's influence is growing globally although they are undemocratic.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 2.

    . . . good! Saakashvili is an American stooge . . . as for the anti Georgian Dream rhetoric . . . they have already declared an aspiration to join Europe . . . the difference is that they prefer not to be antagonistic towards Russia . . . which is just common sense when you are negotiating with a country that is currently occupying 25% of your claimed real estate!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1.

    I wonder if the EU flag which Mr Saakashvili was so fond of will now be removed from the Presidential office?

 

Page 5 of 5

 

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa


  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.