News / Europe

Georgia’s President Saakashvili Concedes Defeat

Georgians read newspapers on the street in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2, 2012.
Georgians read newspapers on the street in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2, 2012.
James Brooke
Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili conceded defeat Tuesday in parliamentary elections.  After a year of polarizing campaign politics, he promised to work with the opposition bloc, the Georgian Dream.

Appearing on Georgian national television, President Saakashvili said: "It is clear that Georgian Dream has won a majority."  Conceding his party will be reduced to a minority opposition force in parliament, he vowed: "We will fight for everything that was created to modernize Georgia, to build new institutions and protect this all for future generations.”

With 73 percent of the vote counted, his United National Movement was winning 41 percent of the vote, but the opposition Georgian Dream coalition was winning 54 percent.

Georgia's Parliamentary Election

  • 16 political parties and blocks are contesting the election
  • All 150 parliamentary seats are being contested
  • More than 3.5 million Georgians are eligible to vote
  • More than 90 observer organizations are monitoring the vote
Saakashvili, an American trained lawyer and close ally of the West, took pride in fostering democratic reform during his eight years as president.  But in recent years, his rule had turned increasingly authoritarian.  Several voters told VOA they decided to vote against him after watching videos on television of Tbilisi prison guards abusing and sodomizing prisoners.

The beneficiary of the videos was Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man and founder of the Georgian Dream. Ivanishvili also appeared Tuesday on national television.  In addition to claiming victory, he asked President Saakashvili to resign.

That is unlikely.  The president has up to one year to set the date for presidential elections.  Once a new president is elected, the constitution mandates many presidential powers shift to the new prime minister. Ivanishvili is expected to take that post.  It is unclear how an Ivanishvili-dominated parliament will coexist with a Saakashvili presidency during the next year.

  • Supporters of an opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgian billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, left, celebrates with supporters at his office in Tbilisi Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Opposition supporters reacts on the central square during a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgians vote during Parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012. Voters in Georgia are choosing a new parliament in a heated election that will decide the future of Saakashvili's government.
  • Lines at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • An elderly woman casts her ballot at her home in the village of Sartichala in Georgia's Kakhety region, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, his wife Sandra Roelofs, and his son Nikoloz at a ballot box before voting in Tblisi, October 1, 2012.
  • Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, addresses the media in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
  • Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze pray in a church in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012.
  • Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream Coalition attend an election rally in Tbilisi September 29, 2012.

Minutes after the Georgian president conceded defeat, European observers held a pre-scheduled press conference.  Luca Volonte, who leads the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, urged the opposition to work with Saakashvili.  “For its part, the opposition must be constructive and responsible and should cooperate for the overall good of society,” said Volonte, an Italian.

Tonino Picula, the leader of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe delegation, said the campaigning period was tilted against the opposition, but the voting was largely fair.  “Yes, I believe that Georgia passed the democracy test,” said Picula, from Croatia. “We are talking today in a very peaceful landscape.  And this is the first general election after the war.”

Assen Agov, a Bulgarian who headed a delegation of parliamentarians from NATO countries said Monday’s democratic election and the promised peaceful transfer of power will boost Georgia’s candidacy to join NATO.  Ivanishvili, the opposition leader, repeatedly promised to uphold Georgia’s existing policy of trying to join NATO and European Union.

But the Georgian Dream leader made his fortune, estimated at $6.4 billion, in Russia.  President Saakashvili who lost a war with Russia four years ago, has accused Ivanishvili of being a Russian agent.  Ivanishvili has responded by saying that he wants to normalize relations with Georgia’s northern neighbor, something that he says would be impossible with Saakashvili in power.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs