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Ex-First Lady undecided whether to enter Parliament

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 3
Georgia’s former First Lady, Sandra Roelofs, is undecided whether to enter Parliament after she refused to participate in the election run-off as a majoritarian candidate of the opposition United National Movement (UNM).

Roelofs was the UNM majoritarian candidate in the western Zugdidi municipality, which she lost in the first round of elections on October 8.

However, her opponent from the ruling party also failed to overcome the mandatory 50% threshold and a second round was held on October 30.

Prior to the second round, Roelofs refused to participate in any further voting, naming rigging of the elections as her reason.

However, based on the law, her name was not removed from the ballot papers, and the second round results revealed she was defeated anyway.

Apart from being a majoritarian candidate, Roelofs was also named as number two in the UNM party list.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system, wherein 73 lawmakers are elected through the majoritarian race and 77 via party list, proportional system.

Late on November 1, Roelofs appeared at the UNM office, and though she did not comment on whether she planned to enter the Parliament, she said she was still a party member and was ready to take part in UNM discussions.

Other members of the UNM also refrained from commenting on the issue, saying a decision on her participation has not been made yet.

However, they stressed that the UNM, which gained 27 seats out of the 150-member legislative body, would not boycott the elections despite the fact the process was carried out “under pressure and falsification by the Georgian Dream government”.

UNM members also responded to former President Saakashvili’s statements, wherein he criticized his party members for taking part in the second round of the elections.

Saakashvili believed the UNM should have refused to enter Parliament, where the ruling Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia Party won a constitutional majority with 115 seats in the legislative body.

UNM members said Saakashvili’s statements were a “part of democracy” and he has the right to openly express his views.

It looks like there is growing difference between the positions of UNM members and their former leader Saakashvili.