Georgians go to the polls today in the second round of local elections. Candidates from the ruling Georgian Dream party face runoff votes for 42 seats on municipal and city councils as well as the mayors of 20 out of 64 municipalities and cities.
Read our election primer: Georgian Dream face challenges in cities as local elections kick off.
31 Oct 2021, 12:00
Read our write up of the results: Georgian opposition groups refuse to concede in municipal runoffs.
30 Oct 2021, 23:31
Results begin to appear
The Central Election Commission has began to release preliminary results.
With 17% of polling stations reporting in Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze is winning with 56% of the vote, to Nika Melia’s 44%.
With between 11%–27% of polling stations counted, Georgian Dream candidates are also leading in the cities of Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti, and Batumi.
In Zugdidi Municipality, Nika Melia’s father, Anzor Melia, is trailing his Georgian Dream rival by 48% to 52%, with just 10% of polling stations counted so far.
30 Oct 2021, 20:25
Imedi exit poll predicts Georgian Dream sweep the board
An exit poll from Imedi carried out by GORBI has predicted victory for Georgian Dream in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, and Batumi. The exit poll includes results up to 18:00 with a reported margin of error of +/- 2.5%.
- Kakha Kaladze (Georgian Dream): 57%
- Nika Melia (UNM): 43%
- Ioseb Khakhaleishvili (Georgian Dream): 52%
- Khatia Dekanoidze (UNM): 48%
- Nino Latsabidze (Georgian Dream): 54%
- Davit Kirkitadze (UNM): 46%
- Archil Chikovani (Georgian Dream): 51%
- Giorgi Kirtadze (UNM): 49%
30 Oct 2021, 20:14
Mtavari exit poll gives Melia win in Tbilisi
An exit poll carried out by Anova for TV channel Mtavari has given the UNM’s Nika Melia the win for Mayor of Tbilisi, beating Kakha Kaladze by 51% to 49%.
The channel also predicted victory for the UNM’s candidates in Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi, and Zugdidi.
- Kakha Kaladze (Georgian Dream): 49%
- Nika Melia (UNM): 51%
- Davit Kirkitadze (UNM): 53%
- Nino Latsabidze (Georgian Dream): 47%
- Khatia Dekanoidze (UNM): 53%
- Ioseb Khakhaleishvili (Georgian Dream): 47%
- Anzor Melia (UNM): 53%
- Mamuka Tsotseria (Georgian Dream): 47%
- Giorgi Kirtadze (UNM): 51%
- Archil Chikovan (Georgian Dream)i: 49%
30 Oct 2021, 20:00
Polls have closed in the second round of Georgia’s municipal elections. TV stations Mtavari and Imedi are both carrying out exit polls, with the initial results likely coming out in the next minutes. The first official preliminary results are not expected until the early hours of the morning.
30 Oct 2021, 19:06
Nika Melia attacked in Vazisubani, Tbilisi
A scuffle has taken place outside the 62nd precinct in Tbilisi after the voting process stopped due to a power outage.
Opposition Tbilisi Mayoral candidate Nika Melia had arrived outside the polling staton along with supporters, quickly followed by Georgian Dream MP Beka Davituliani with supporters of his own.
As police tried to separate the two groups, an unidentified man hit Melia on the head from behind.
Police officers whisked away several men aggressively protesting against Melia outside the precinct. No arrests were immediately reported.
Nika Melia accused Georgian Dream of organising the outage and also of mobilising criminals outside the precinct to intimidate opposition voters, while Davituliani alleged Melia tried to ‘pressure’ the electoral administrators there.
30 Oct 2021, 18:46
Continued reports of attacks on journalists
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association have confirmed a ‘tendency’ of media workers being obstructed from covering today’s vote.
‘Several cases have been recorded where media representatives were verbally and physically assaulted. Consequently, they were deprived of the right to conduct their professional activities properly’, GYLA said in their interim report.
The latest incidents involve TV channel Formula, who alleged that a film crew in Gonia, Adjara was attacked by an unidentified man throwing a stone at their vehicle. Footage released by Formula also shows one of their reporters being harassed by a group of men, with one pulling her hair.
Formula also reported an attack with a stone in the village of Zeda Meskheti, in Imereti Region.
Adjara’s TV 25 also reported their crew being physically harassed, presumably by Georgian Dream party coordinators who were reportedly keeping track of supporters near a polling station. The location of the incident was not immediately reported.
Earlier, a reporter from Mtavari, Ema Gogokhia, was harassed in Senaki Municipality, Samegrelo Region, by another reporter from pro-government TV channel PosTV who vowed to prevent her from ‘misinforming’ the public. The PosTV reporter tried to obstruct Gogokhia also while she was reporting live.
30 Oct 2021, 18:37
Turnout at 40% at 17:00
According to the Central Election Commission, as of 17:00, voter turnout nationwide was 40%. During the first round of the vote on 2 October, at that same time, turnout was 41%.
Racha-Lechkhumi remained the region with the highest turnout, at 53%.
30 Oct 2021, 17:38
Kelly Degnan: We have information about attacks on media and election observers
The US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, told reporters that 26 embassy teams from all over Georgia are observing the elections.
‘We have reported attacks on media, on [journalists], on election observers, who have been blocked from being able to go into the precincts, which is their job’, the ambassador said. She added that the elections were ‘an opportunity to see whether the election reforms that were adopted last summer are working’ and that she had witnessed ‘improvements’.
‘Each election is the opportunity for a little step forward and I hope that that is what we're going to see at the end of today and tomorrow’, she said.
30 Oct 2021, 17:12
Ilia II: ‘Today we are choosing the future’
Georgian Patriarch Ilia II has voted using a mobile ballot box brought to the residence of the Patriarch.
‘Today we bless Georgia. Today we are choosing the future, [...] We look to the future with hope’, he reportedly said after voting.
30 Oct 2021, 16:59
Georgian Dream: We’re winning in 18 mayoral races
Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze, has called on the ruling party’s supporters to mobilise to vote to avoid defeat in two out of 20 localities where opposition candidates, according to him, were ‘close to 50%’ of the vote.
30 Oct 2021, 16:50
As of 15:00, voter turnout at 32%
According to the Central Election Commission, as of 15:00, voter turnout nationwide was 32%. During the first round of the vote on 2 October, at that same time, turnout was 33%.
Racha-Lechkhumi remained the region with the highest turnout (45%).
30 Oct 2021, 16:47
Georgian Dream accuse media of ‘bullying’ their party coordinators
After media criticism, Georgian Dream Tbilisi mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze has reiterated that their representatives had every right to track their supporters with their own voter lists outside the polling stations.
Meanwhile, the ruling party’s executive secretary Mamuka Mdinaradze went as far as accusing ‘UNM TV channels’ of ‘bullying’ Georgian Dream representatives on the voting day over this.
In order to curb voter intimidation, recently amended election regulations forbid people from gathering within 100 metres of polling stations. Georgian Dream leaders stressed that their party representatives have been observing the distance requirement but were still ‘bullied’ by the media over the issue.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was also critical of the media’s work today, calling Dea Mamiseishvili, reporter of the TV channel Mtavari, an ‘ordinary aggressor and a provocateur’ after she complained he was ‘constantly dodging’ her questions.
These statements were quickly followed up by the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, an independent association of journalists, urging Georgian Dream to abstain from ‘encouraging violence against journalists’.
30 Oct 2021, 15:49
ISFED: Observers assaulted, threatened
The International Society for Fair Elections And Democracy (ISFED), a Georgian election watchdog, has reported that their election observers have been interfered with in multiple locations throughout Georgia.
According to ISFED, their own observers at polling precincts 10, 29, 38, and 96 of the Zugdidi Electoral District were obstructed from carrying out their duties. One observer was reportedly physically assaulted, while one was threatened.
Beyond procedural violations, ISFED has also reported two possible cases of vote-buying at two precincts in the Black Sea coast city of Batumi.
[Read Datablog on OC Media: Who reported seeing dzveli bitchebi engaged in the elections?]
30 Oct 2021, 15:18
GYLA: Bidzina Ivanishvili’s bodyguards violated law
According to the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, bodyguards of Bidzina Ivanishvili and his spouse Ekaterine Khvedelidze were not authorised to follow them inside precinct 4 in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda district.
Ivanishvili’s security detail also obstructed journalists, including OC Media’s Mariam Nikuradze, from entering the premises after Ivanishvili’s arrival.
30 Oct 2021, 14:20
CEC: No poll worker has tested positive for COVID-19
Natia Ioseliani, a spokesperson for the Central Election Commission, stated that no active poll workers have tested positive for COVID-19. She made the comments after United National Movement member of parliament Levan Bezhashvili, told reporters that at the polling station 106 in Tbilisi, several poll workers have tested positive for the virus but have continued working.
30 Oct 2021, 13:59
Georgia slowly introduces e-voting at precincts
During runoff elections today, Georgian electoral authorities are continuing to pilot electronic voting at the Krtsanisi District in Tbilisi, which will be available to roughly 41,000 eligible voters (4% of Tbilisi voters).
Among the Georgian voters to cast their ballot electronically today were Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and chair of the opposition Lelo party Mamuka Khazaradze.
The Central Election Commission had previously organised a mock election to test the system in June of this year.
30 Oct 2021, 13:48
Altercation in Zugdidi
A brawl erupted outside the 20th election precinct in the western Georgian town of Zugdidi earlier this morning between election observers from the For Georgia group (not affiliated with Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party) and observers from the Green Alternative - Green Earth group.
Both are known to be associated with the United National Movement and Georgian Dream parties, respectively.
Mamuka Tsotseria, the local mayoral candidate from Georgian Dream, confirmed he was involved in the dispute.
The Interior Ministry said later that they had detained five individuals over petty hooliganism and disobeying police officers. All five appeared to be For Georgia members.
30 Oct 2021, 13:41
As of 12:00, voter turnout at 17%
As of 12:00, voter turnout across Georgia was 17.18%, for a total of 358,782 voters, the Central Election Commission reports.
The highest voter turnout has been recorded in Racha-Lechkhumi at 24.6% the lowest in Mtskheta-Mtianeti - 13.2%.
In Tbilisi, the turnout was 16.5%.
30 Oct 2021, 12:32
Kaladze: ‘I chose Kaladze’
‘Of course I chose Kakha Kaladze so that the restoration and development that we had started in the capital city since 2017 continues’, said Tbilisi Mayoral incumbent Kakha Kaladze after casting his vote at a Saburtalo precinct in Tbilisi today.
Since the first round of this local election, Georgian Dream leaders have defied the tradition of being vague about their votes when talking to reporters outside of polling stations, arguing that their comments did not constitute campaigning on election day.
30 Oct 2021, 11:53
Gakharia: After 18 years, we have to choose between two bad options
Speaking outside a polling precinct in Tbilisi, For Georgia party chair Giorgi Gakharia reminded voters to support 19 majoritarian candidates and one mayoral contender from his For Georgia party today.
For Georgia’s chair did not miss the opportunity to slam both Georgian Dream and United National Movement, hinting that he did not vote for either Tbilisi mayoral candidates this morning.
‘When they make us choose between two bad options, I will not give my vote to either of one’, he said. ‘These elections were the worst during the last nine years’.
30 Oct 2021, 11:33
Ivanishvili casts vote without comment
The founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili kept his tradition of casting his vote early in the morning in the Mtatsminda district of Tbilisi.
Ivanishvili, accompanied by a heavy security detail that prevented a number of journalists from entering the polling station, did not give comment to the media.
The public has not heard a word from Ivanishvili since early June when he condemned former Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and his newly founded For Georgia party.
30 Oct 2021, 11:24
TV Mtavari: ₾1,000 bounty for a documented voting violation
Opposition-leaning Georgian TV channel Mtavari have announced a ₾1,000 ($317) prize for a report on an election violation with a ‘video confirming it’.
30 Oct 2021, 11:00
Saakashvili continues to loom large
Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has continued to loom large over the elections, after his dramatic return to Georgia and arrest on the eve of the first round. Since then, Georgia’s third president has been on hunger strike in prison.
In an interview with the pro-government TV channel, Imedi on Thursday, the Prime Minister said Saakashvili’s United National Movement had planned to organise a coup on the evening of the first round. He said Saakashvili had planned to show up at a gathering of opposition supporters provoking a police response. He said they would then kill several opposition leaders to precipitate the storming and take over of government buildings.
Gharibashvili did not provide any evidence of the alleged plot and a spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office told OC Media she did not know if an official investigation had been launched.
30 Oct 2021, 10:05
During the first round, Georgian Dream won 47% of the proportional vote, followed by the UNM on 31%, and Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia Party on 8%.
Georgian Dream failed to avoid runoffs in all five self-governing cities, with the UNM’s candidates coming out on top in both Batumi and Kutaisi.
30 Oct 2021, 08:00
Polls have opened in the second round of Georgia’s municipal elections.
The main battleground will be in the capital Tbilisi, where incumbent Kakha Kaladze and UNM chair Nika Melia are facing off.
Mayoral elections will also be held between Georgian Dream and UNM candidates in 12 municipalities and the cities Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, and Poti, where the contest is also expected to be tight.
Among the most contentious is Zugdidi, where mayoral candidate Anzor Melia, the father of Nika Melia, came just 3 percentage points short of passing the 50% threshold to win outright on 2 October.
Mayoral races between Georgian Dream candidates and other opposition parties will also be held in three municipalities.
Former PM Giorgi Gakharia ‘s For Georgia Party, who won the third most votes overall in the first round, will challenge the ruling party for mayor only in Tsageri Municipality, in the northwestern region of Svaneti.
Read more on the background to the election in this primer by Shota Kincha: Georgian Dream face challenges in cities as local elections kick off.