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Pre-election events: how they affected voters’ decisions?

Georgian citizens go to elections to define their future

Today, 8 October 2016, after a very tense pre-election week Georgian citizens went to polling stations in order to figure out who they want to see in parliament seats in the next term. 

Group of students from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs inquired how pre-election events, such as the explosion of a politician’s car and shooting of the other one last week affected the choice of voters. 

Out of about 20 people questioned at different polling stations, all of them answered that the pre-election week incidents didn’t change their mind. 

Many political parties were competing this year, however the tension between two major and rival parties, Georgian Dream and National Movement was very severe during entire pre-election process. The two parties accused each other harshly on numerous issues, manipulations and false accusations. 

3 days before the elections day the car of National Party’s member Givi Tagramadze exploded in capital Tbilisi, near Freedom Square. 5 people were injured and two of them were taken to a hospital, according to the police statement. The member of Georgian Party and Gori district candidate Irakli Okruashvili came under fire on 2 October. He said to the Georgian media that his bodyguard and one of the activists were wounded and are placed in the hospital. 

Arthur, an economist from Tbilisi who voted at the 22nd polling station was sure to be protected from any influences, because he thought he was aware of the strategies used by Government to baffle one’s minds, as an example he provided the short explanation of Behaviorism  - “I am not a specialist, but I know that  it can affect voters’ minds.” 

Neli, an ex-teacher from Tbilisi, didn’t even take the questions seriously, calls these events just a manipulations by National Movement party. “It is very obvious attempt, it is an impudence…normal voters won’t believe in them, Children would be affected, of course,” she said.

Irakli, a businessmen, refused to blame towards National Movement party for car explosion and considered that attitude “a madness.”  “ Who is that weird to explode in the car himself? What guarantee he had that he would survive,” he said. 

Despite various minds of voters, all of them expressed that the pre-election events could not  change their opinion, but also strengthened it.

However, hte main opposition party – National Movement claimed that these unwanted events merely were not coincidence. On 5 October, UNM released the following English-language statement:

“The explosion – which bears all signs of a pre-planned terrorist act – is a major escalation of the already deteriorating election environment. The pre-election period has been marred with string of violence against opposition, including shooting at an opposition independent candidate in Gori, multiple violent disruptions of opposition campaign events and, most importantly, Government’s policy of impunity of perpetrators.”

On the other hand, top officials of the rulling party, Georgian Dream, denied these accusations. Georgian president, Giorgi Margvelashvili described the car explosion “as criminal attack at normal political democratic process.” Unfortunately, some criminal mentality people are united in some political forces, we can call them criminal elements who see the political process as a physical violence against each other, he added. 

Georgian Central Election Committee will announce the official results of elections tonight. 

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"It was a tottally unexpected to feel this strong support during the pre-election period."