Runoff Parliamentary Vote in Breakaway Abkhazia

At least 30 seats in breakaway Abkhazia’s 35-member Parliament will go to independent candidates – those nominated by “initiative groups” and not by political parties, as a result of two rounds of elections held on March 12 and March 26, local media sources reported on Monday.

More than half of the seats in breakaway Abkhazia’s 35-member National Assembly went into a second round of voting on March 26.

Repeat elections will be held in one single-mandate constituency in Gudauta on May 14.

Only eight out of 28 incumbent lawmakers, running in the elections, managed to retain their parliamentary seats.

There are 31 ethnic Abkhaz and 3 ethnic Armenians among the elected lawmakers. Only one woman managed to secure victory in elections.

Out of 22 seats, contested in the second round, only one party managed to win seats: the pro-governmental Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia (FNUA) will have three members in the legislative body. One candidate of the opposition Ainar party won a parliamentary seat in the first round.

Total of 137 candidates were running for seats in the National Assembly, including eight women and 28 incumbent lawmakers. Only 24 of them were nominated by political parties and others were nominated by initiative groups.

Abkhaz lawmakers are elected for a five-year term through a majoritarian system in single-mandate constituencies.

There were about 131,523 voters eligible to cast ballot in the election, according to the region’s election administration. The figure is less than it was in 2011 presidential and 2012 parliamentary elections as thousands of ethnic Georgians, residing in Gali district, were removed from the voters list.

According to the breakaway region’s 1999 constitution, Abkhazia is a presidential republic; its 35-member parliament can initiate legislation and submit it to the president for approval, and the executive can submit his own legislation. Parliamentary approval requires 18 votes.

Elections in the region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and three other countries (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru), which have recognized the region as an independent state.