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Preliminary Results Show Georgian Dream Won Most Mayoral Runoffs


In Tbilisi, the mayoral seat was won by former AC Milan soccer player Kakha Kaladze.

Final preliminary election results suggest that Georgian Dream won five out of six mayoral runoffs that were held on November 12, three weeks after the ruling coalition won victories in most constituencies in the first round.

According to figures released by the Central Election Commission, Georgian Dream candidates won the mayoral seats in Georgia's second-largest city, Kutaisi, as well as Borjomi, Kazbegi, Khashuri, and Martvili constituencies.

However, the coalition’s candidate in Ozurgeti narrowly lost to an independent candidate.

The overall turnout was 33.2 percent, according to the election commission.

In the first round held on October 21, Georgian Dream won in all constituencies under the proportional contest and secured 63 out of 64 mayoral positions, including in the capital, Tbilisi.

The countrywide local elections were seen by many as a key test for Georgian Dream ahead of next year's presidential election.

Commission spokeswoman Ana Mikeladze said there were no serious incidents during the runoffs.

"Elections were being held in a calm environment at election precincts and except minor procedural shortcomings, no serious incidents were identified. Voters were able to freely express their will during an entire day," she said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) generally gave high marks to the vote, saying that "as in the first round, fundamental freedoms were generally respected."

Election day proceeded in a "smooth and professional manner," although "indications of possible intimidation and pressure on voters raised concern," a statement said.

It also said that restrictions on campaigning through media "negatively affected the competitiveness" of the runoff contests and highlighted the need to improve the legal framework.

The election commission said the Georgian Dream coalition won nearly 56 percent of the vote in the first round, while its closest rival, the United National Movement, got 17 percent.

Turnout was more than 45 percent.

Georgian Dream candidates gathered more than 50 percent in four of the five towns and cities where a mayor is directly elected -- Tbilisi, Batumi, Poti, and Rustavi.

In the capital, the mayoral seat was won by former AC Milan soccer player Kakha Kaladze.

He was reportedly backed by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of Georgian Dream and a former prime minister who is the South Caucasus country's richest man.

The previous local elections were held in two rounds in 2014, with the coalition winning most of the council seats and mayoral positions.

Ivanishvili withdrew from politics in November 2013, but many believe he continues to control Georgian Dream from behind the scenes.

Georgian Dream defeated former President Mikheil Saakashvili's party and came to power in parliamentary elections in 2012.

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