The political council of the United National Movement is to meet this evening to decide on a course of action after dismissing the results of Saturday’s election. A rift has emerged in the party with some leaders calling for a full boycott of the parliament whilst others have cautioned against hasty decisions.
UNM founder and former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has issued a statement saying that he believes their is no point participating in the run-off votes due to be held in 50 constituencies where no candidate received an outright majority. Saakashvili, who is currently Governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine, has called for a full boycott of the election results.
The party’s current leader Davit Bakradze has cautioned against “hasty decisions” which would leave only one party in the Georgian parliament. Mr Bakradze added that they party “was not planning on doing anything which be in favour of the government [and ruling party].
Results from the party list vote in Saturday’s election gave the ruling Georgian Dream party a significant lead with 48.6% of the vote share. The UNM won 27.11%. The only other party to clear the minimum 5% threshold was the populist Alliance of Patriots which cleared the threshold by just 113 votes.
UNM leader and Foreign Relations secretary also cautioned against a boycott:
“I understand very well emotions and outrage of one part of our activists and supporters over disgraceful pre-election period and voting day. But I firmly believe that because of this very grave situation and despite of this unfair and not free elections, our political force as the only pro-Western, democratic and efficient opposition forces in our country, should definitely enter the Parliament and participate in the second round runoffs… so that Ivanishvili doesn’t gain a constitutional majority”.
UNM member Sergi Kapanadze echoed Bokeria’s statement, adding
“Almost 500 000 citizens voted for the United National Movement. Despite all the pressures, unlawfulness, bribery and manipulation by the government. Now it’s important the we stay calm and act within the terms of the Constitution...We shouldn’t let the Georgian Dream have a constitutional majority. We will soon disclose our action plan, which will take into account our leader’s opinions, but first and foremost, the opinions of our activists and supporters. The UNM isn’t just the party of one or two people - 500 000 put their trust in this party and we should take this into account.”
Elene Khoshtaria, a UNM candidate in Tbilisi stated that a boycott would be “suicide” as Georgia’s “main progressive party” and extremely harmful for the country.
The Head of the European Parliament’s observer mission, Ana Gomez, has said that boycotting the run off vote and not entering the parliament would be “madness” which would be an “unfaithful” and fail voters.