08TBILISI881, GEORGIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION UPDATE MAY 27

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI881 2008-05-27 15:42 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4098
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0881/01 1481542
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271542Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9507
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000881 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION UPDATE MAY 27 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  On May 27, with 3604 precincts reporting, 
the ruling United National Movement has 59.22 percent of the 
vote in Georgia's parliamentary elections.  This will likely 
give them a total of 120 out of 150 seats in Parliament.  The 
opposition parties held a protest on May 26 against what they 
deem "falsified elections."  The Joint Opposition has called 
for a boycott of the new Parliament and creation of an 
"alternative Parliament."  Still, four opposition candidates 
have already stated their intention to join the new 
Parliament, regardless of a boycott.  Other parties, such as 
Giorgi Targamadze's Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), are 
still debating whether or not to join the Parliament.  On May 
24-25, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and 
representatives of the EC and Council of Europe (CoE) met 
with opposition parties to discuss election complaints and 
appeals with Giga Bokeria, representing the government's 
Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).  At an OSCE Ambassadorial 
Working Group (AWG) on May 27, the head of ODIHR urged 
bilateral missions to be cautious in their welcoming remarks, 
noting that ODIHR's statement was a compromise between 5 
different groups and implying that more criticism may be in 
their final report.  Germany, the UK, and the U.S. noted 
clear progress in the January presidential elections. 
Following the May 26 protests, opposition leaders confronted 
the Director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) in his 
office, alleging biased GPB coverage against the opposition. 
On May 27, the GPB Board Chairman resigned, also claiming the 
GPB's "biased its coverage" of the opposition protests.  End 
Summary. 
 
UNM Wins Big, and Then Some 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On May 27, with 3604 precincts (out of 3635) 
reporting, the ruling United National Movement has 59.22 
percent of the vote in Georgia's parliamentary elections. 
This will likely give them a total of 120 seats in Parliament 
out of 150, according to the USAID-funded International 
Republican Institute (IRI).  This is well over the two-thirds 
majority they need to change the constitution, although 
President Saakashvili said publicly on May 22 that the ruling 
party has no plans to change the  "without the participation 
of the opposition."  With 17.71 percent of the vote, the 
Joint Opposition will likely receive 14 party-list seats and 
2 majoritarian seats.  The CDM will receive 6 party-list 
seats with 8.63 percent of the vote, and the Labor party will 
receive 6 party list seats with 7.43 percent of the vote. 
The Republicans failed to meet the party-list threshold of 5 
percent, garnering only 3.78. 
 
Joint Opposition Protests, Wants Alternative Parliament 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3. (SBU) The Joint Opposition has called for the formation of 
an "alternative Parliament," and has called for those winning 
opposition candidates to boycott the new Parliament.  This 
"alternative Parliament" will allegedly be located in the New 
Rightists' party headquarters.  Some opposition leaders, such 
as Targamadze and Paata Davitaia have dismissed such a 
structure as an unrealistic solution.  Some in the National 
Movement have pointed out that a similar "alternative 
Parliament" was created in 1991-2, leading to Georgia's civil 
war under Zviad Gamsakhurdia. 
 
4. (SBU) The opposition parties held a protest on May 26, 
calling the elections fraudulent, and attempting to "break 
up" the Independence Day parade on the same day.  The GOG, 
however, moved the timing of the parade ahead an hour to 
avoid a confrontation.  Nearly 20,000 protesters joined the 
scene at its height.  The crowd was older, and evenly mixed 
with men and women.  Police acted calmly and even cleared 
Rustaveli Avenue in order to allow the protesters to gather 
in front of Parliament.  The Republicans and CDM attended the 
protests, although neither joined in the anti-U.S. or 
anti-Western rhetoric. 
 
Four Opposition Candidates to Join Parliament 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Four opposition candidates have already stated their 
intention to join the new Parliament, regardless of a 
boycott.  These include Paata Davitaia and Giorgi 
Lortkipanidze of the Joint Opposition, Nugzar Ergemlidze from 
the Labor Party, and the Republicans' majoritarian candidate 
from Tsageri, Karlo Koaliani.  We heard May 27 that the 
second Republican candidate also plans to enter Parliament. 
Targamadze has not yet committed to the boycott.  (Comment: 
The CDM is reportedly under significant pressure from the 
Joint Opposition and Labor parties to boycott Parliament.  It 
appears that the CDM understands there is little to be gained 
 
TBILISI 00000881  002 OF 002 
 
 
from boycotting Parliament, that the "alternative Parliament" 
is a dead end, and that the Joint Opposition may be painting 
themselves into a corner.  More to be reported se
ptel.  End 
comment.) 
 
Opposition, Internationals, and IATF Meet 
----------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) On May 24-25, the government's Inter-Agency Task 
Force (IATF), represented by Giga Bokeria, met with 
opposition parties and local NGOs to discuss their election 
complaints and appeals.  The EC and CoE Ambassadors were 
present, as well as the National Democratic Institute (NDI). 
EC Ambassador Per Eklund said garnering specific information 
from the opposition parties was difficult, and that only two 
of the opposition's complaints were clearly justified (and 
subsequently addressed by the Government).  The first was a 
refusal to accept a written complaint because it was filed 
one minute late (although begun earlier).  Bokeria said the 
complaint would be accepted.  The second involved late 
registration of UNM voters in districts where they did not 
normally reside.  After review, it was deemed that the 
registrations were possibly unethical, though not technically 
illegal.  Eklund believed that the opposition was radicalized 
and focused on pre-existing allegations of wrongdoing, rather 
than presenting substantial new evidence of systemic problems. 
 
OSCE Ambassadors Meet 
--------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) On May 27, an OSCE Ambassadorial Working Group, 
heard Ambassador Boris Frlec, Head of ODIHR, state that 
ODIHR's preliminary statement of findings (emailed to 
EUR/CARC) was a "compromise document" among 5 different 
groups.  He implied that ODIHR's final report may be more 
critical.  He noted that criticism in ODIHR reports is meant 
to be constructive, and further democratic development. 
Finally, he asked the group not to be "too enthusiastic in 
your initial appraisals of the electoral process." 
 
8. (SBU) Germany, the UK, and the Embassy noted significant 
progress in these parliamentary elections compared to the 
January elections.  The German and UK Ambassadors responded 
to the French Ambassador's question of whether these 
parliamentary elections "should be accepted by the 
international community, as they would not be acceptable in 
Germany or France."  The German Ambassador noted that the 
criteria for these elections should not be whether or not 
they met Western European standards - noting that this would 
be impossible in Georgia considering the Tsarist, Communist, 
and Civil War history here.  Rather, Germany's benchmark was 
whether the trend of these elections was positive and in the 
right direction.  Germany assessed it was.  The U.S., UK, 
Germany, and the EC Ambassador agreed that the elections 
expressed real improvement in the Government's efforts, 
including especially responses to complaints.  The Bulgarian, 
German, and CoE Ambassadors each noted the positive and 
noticeable impact of the training election officials received 
prior to the election (the majority of which was funded by 
USAID).  The CoE Ambassador said this was the first time in 
his four years in Georgia that the IATF responded 
aggressively to complaints, and a court overturned a District 
Election Commission decision.  He said "this is new momentum." 
 
Opposition Confront GPB, Chairman Resigns 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) Following the May 26 protests, several opposition 
leaders, including Giorgi Khaindrava, Salome Zourabichvili, 
Zviad Dzidziguri, and Davit Saganelidze, confronted the 
Director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Levan 
Kubaneishvili, in is office.  They accused him of "taking 
orders from Saakashvili" and providing negative coverage of 
the opposition.  Kubaneishvili rebuffed the charges, noting 
that the GPB dedicated 39 minutes of news coverage to the 
protest rallies.  He reportedly said "this TV channel will 
not come under the influence of any political group." 
 
10. (SBU) On May 27, the Chairman of the GPB's Supervisory 
Board, Irakli Tripolski, resigned.  He claimed the GPB was 
not following the law which requires it to be objective in 
its reporting.  (Comment: Our local staff believe that the 
GPB is objective and balanced in its reporting.  This view 
was also that of ODIHR in its May 14 interim report.  End 
comment.) 
TEFFT

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