- Title: Ruling party in ex-Soviet Georgia declares victory in parliament vote
- Date: 8th October 2016
- Summary: PEOPLE WAVING GEORGIAN DREAM PARTY AND GEORGIAN FLAGS
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2016 19:49
- Keywords: Georgia parliamentary exit polls results celebration
- Location: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- City: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0025356SSN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The ruling Georgian Dream party won a parliamentary election in ex-Soviet Georgia on Saturday (October 8), two exit polls showed.
The first poll, conducted by international market researcher Kantar Public, put Georgian Dream on 53.8 percent. The second poll, conducted by international market researcher GfK, gave it 39.9 percent.
Both polls put the opposition UNM party in second place. According to Kantar, UNM obtained 19.5 percent. GfK said UNM - founded by former president Mikheil Saakashvili - got 32.74 percent.
The pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots also cleared the 5 percent threshold needed to secure a place in the 150-seat parliament, both exit polls showed.
The election is seen as a test of stability in a country criss-crossed by strategically important oil and gas pipelines and traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West.
The ruling Georgian Dream party declared victory in a parliamentary election in ex-Soviet Georgia on Saturday after two exit polls put it in the first place following a tense vote widely seen as a test of political stability.
"We were expecting this victory and the main reason for this victory was consistency, economic development, it was human rights protection and dramatic change started from 2012", said the party leader and the country's Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili after addressing a crowd of celebrating supporters outside the party's headquarters in Tbilisi.
Georgian Dream, which came to power in 2012, is funded by tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country's richest man, while the opposition UNM was founded by former president Mikheil Saakashvili.
The leader of the opposition United National Movement party David Bakradze said it was too early to talk about the poll results and that his party still had a chance to win.
"You will not be oppressed if you vote for government, you will only be intimidated in Georgia today if you vote for UNM (United National Movement). So we have every reason to believe that absolute majority of these 33 percent of voters who refused to identify their choice belong to UNM supporters, and we do believe that once the election commissions conduct the full count of the votes UNM will be ahead in these elections," Bakradze said speaking at UNM headquarters in the Georgian capital.
Under Georgian Dream, dozens of ex-officials have been arrested on charges such as abuse of power, and some Western countries have accused the government of selectively applying justice.
Saakashvili, now a regional politician in Ukraine, is wanted at home on a string of charges, including corruption. He says the charges are politically motivated.
Criss-crossed by strategically important oil and gas pipelines and traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West, Georgia hopes to join the European Union and NATO one day even though that is something that Russia, its former colonial master, strongly opposes.
A fifth of Georgian territory remains under the control of pro-Russian separatists following a short war with Russia in 2008 and the economy is emerging from a deep slowdown that has eroded living standards.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Audio restrictions: This clip's Audio includes copyrighted material. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing the audio contained in this clip.