Ruling party seeks new mandate in Georgia election

People in Georgia are voting in parliamentary elections, which are seen as a test of stability for the former Soviet republic.

More than 20 political parties are ‘competing for seats in the assembly.’

Main battle
The main battle is expected to be between the governing Georgian Dream party and the opposition United National Movement (UNM).

However, many voters were still undecided on the eve of the elections, according to opinion polls.

They are weary about the elections, as poverty, unemployment and debt continue to blight their lives, report says.

Opening of polls
Polls opened at 08:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and close at 20:00.

Political parties need to clear the 5% threshold to be represented in the 150-member parliament.

Georgian Dream hopes to secure a further mandate to govern, claiming modest economic success stories over the past four years, including a trade deal with Europe.

The UNM, which brought Georgia international recognition for its reforms under its flamboyant leader and former President Mikheil Saakashvili, was voted out in 2012 following a prison abuse scandal.

The UNM hopes that Georgians have grown tired of the ruling party and its billionaire founder Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Despite having officially left politics, Mr Ivanishvili is still widely considered to be the country’s chief decision-maker.

Still, in a region of predominantly authoritarian states, Georgia is a post-Soviet success story with a multi-party democracy, report adds.

Mercy Chukwudiebere