Georgia opposition boycott election runoffs

TBILISI (AFP) – Georgia held runoff elections in several constituencies yesterday, in a vote boycotted by the opposition, which has refused to enter the new parliament in the Caucasus nation.

All the opposition parties have denounced as rigged the October 31 parliamentary elections and have staged mass protests, calling for snap polls – a demand the ruling Georgian Dream party has rejected.

The ruling party, led by billionaire ex-prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, flatly denies accusations of electoral fraud.

An opposition boycott could weigh heavily on Georgian Dream’s political legitimacy.

On Friday, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia called on opposition parties to assume their seats in the new parliament and take part in yesterday’s runoffs to “return the processes back to a formal legal framework and formal political platform”.

Georgian Dream had won 48 per cent of the votes, against 46 per cent for opposition parties, in a proportional ballot that decided 120 of the legislature’s 150 seats.

The party also secured a first-round victory in 13 single-mandate majoritarian constituencies and the remaining 17 parliamentary seats are up for grabs in the second-round runoff.

Opposition candidates have said they will renounce their mandates.