Georgia's democracy 'maturing,' OSCE says

Oct. 28, 2013 at 9:51 AM

TBILISI, Georgia, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Presidential elections in Georgia were fair, professional and transparent, members of an international monitoring team said Monday from Tbilisi.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said 23 candidates competed for president in an open and transparent fashion.

"[The election] process was conducted professionally and transparently in an amicable and constructive environment," Mati Raidma, head of NATO's parliamentary assembly delegation, said in a statement Monday. "Essentially, what we observed yesterday was a European election."

Georgia is vying for a closer relationship with the European Union.

Georgia's Central Election Commission said Monday preliminary results show Georgian Dream coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili took 62 percent of the vote. Georgian Dream is backed by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Davit Bakradze, from outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement, took second place with 21.9 percent of the vote.

Ivanishvili's party ousted the president's party in parliamentary elections last year. The OSCE said in a statement "personality politics" dominated the debate during the presidential campaign.

Joao Soares, who led a short-term observer mission for the OSCE, said the election was transparent and democracy is "maturing" in Georgia.

A 50 percent plus-one victory was needed to secure an outright win.

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