Moscow’s Denunciation of Georgian Election Foreshadows Troubled Times Ahead

Moscow’s Denunciation of Georgian Election Foreshadows Troubled Times Ahead

According to official results released yesterday, Mikheil Saakashvili won a definitive first-round victory in this weekend's snap presidential elections in Georgia. Saakashvili received a narrow majority of votes, thereby obviating the need to engage in a runoff with the next-highest vote getter. The Central Election Commission concluded the former president garnered 53 percent of the vote on Saturday, while the second-place finisher received 27 percent.

Whatever their effects at home, the events of the last few months are unlikely to either improve Georgia's already troubled relationship with Moscow or bolster its chances of joining NATO, which Saakashvili, his main political opponents, and the Georgian electorate all endorsed in a separate non-binding referendum.

In its preliminary findings, the International Election Observation Mission concluded that, while the results were generally consistent with most international standards for democratic elections, flaws such as a pervasive lack of political trust, cases of intimidation of opposition candidates, procedural shortcomings in election counting, and an unwarranted boost to Saakashvili from his activities as head of state need to be overcome before the next ballot. The mission comprised some 85 parliamentarians and 340 short-term observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, and the European Parliament.

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