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Candidates Of Ruling Party On Track To Win Georgia By-Election


Georgians Vote In By-Elections
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WATCH: Georgians Vote In By-Elections

Candidates of the ruling Georgian Dream party appeared poised to win local by-elections held in Georgia, according to preliminary results.

Voters went to the polls on May 19 to elect a lawmaker, five mayors, and members of eight city councils across the South Caucasus country.

The elections came before crucial parliamentary elections in 2020.

According to preliminary results announced by the Central Electoral Commission, Georgian Dream candidates managed to get more than 50 percent of the vote in all five mayoral races, defeating opponents from Georgia's opposition United National Movement party.

A second round of voting will take place for a parliamentary seat for the Mtatsminda district of the capital, Tbilisi, where Georgian Dream's Lado Kakhadze won the first round with more than 41 percent and in the second round will face Shalva Shavgulidze from the opposition European Georgia, who came in second with almost 37 percent.

The most heated race was in the western city of Zugdidi, where former President Mikheil Saakashvili's wife, Sandra Roelofs, ran for mayor but lost to Georgian Dream candidate Gega Shengelia.

Supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party scuffled with Nika Gvaramia, the head of the Rustavi 2 channel and a Saakashvili supporter, in the city. Both sides blamed each other for provoking the incident.

Scuffles Accompany Mayoral Vote In Western Georgian City
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The United National Movement party, which Saakashvili founded, has traditionally enjoyed strong support in the country's western regions.

Saakashvili lives in the Netherlands, his wife's home country.

Georgian Dream has ruled the country since ousting Saakashvili's United National Movement from power in 2012.

Last year, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after being convicted of trying to cover up evidence about the 2006 killing of a Georgian banker.

The former president has rejected all the charges as politically motivated.