Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend A.Gasimova / Georgia has created an authentic democratic culture that is almost unique among former Soviet States, the US expert said.
"I wasn't an observer on the scene, but I have read the statements of international monitors, and was impressed by their judgment that this was Georgia's most democratic election ever," Ambassador-at-large to the former Soviet Union under the Clinton administration, and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Steven Sestanovich, reported to Trend by e-mail on 8 January.
The presidential election in Georgia was held completely in democratic conditions although there were revealed some facts of violation. The head of the PACE delegation Matias Yorsh stated to Trend agency that the election in Georgia met all international standards and created condition to Georgian population to hold elections democratically.
" Georgia has created an authentic democratic culture that is almost unique among former soviet states ( Ukraine is the only other true success story in this respect). It's a remarkable achievement, and makes Georgia's future look very bright," Sestanovich said.
According to him, as in almost all post-communist countries there were problems (the use of administrative resources is probably the most serious), and these require continuing attention.
"Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that president Saakashvili got about twice as much support as his nearest competitor," the expert said.
As regards to the threats of the opposition to conduct demonstrations due to dissatisfaction with the results of the elections, the expert said that in countries with very recent democratic traditions, elections are often followed by protest demonstrations. "Look at Mexico -- substantial crowds protested the last presidential election for a long time. But they were steadily losing momentum, because their claims were not really accepted by Mexican society -- or by international opinion," he said.
"In Georgia, there will surely be demonstrations, but the real test will be whether they seem to express the dissatisfaction of a majority or just the unhappiness of those who lost," the expert said.
According to him, As long as the demonstrations are peaceful they don't necessarily create a new political crisis, and if society does not seem to support their complaints, the opposition will probably accept the results before long.
"It's possible that this entire experience will represent a step forward in georgian politics -- the formation of a more unified and effective opposition that can win enough support in the parliamentary elections to create a more normal democratic system of government," Stepanovich said.
The early Presidential elections took place in Georgia on 5 January. According to data from the Central Election Commission of Georgia, from the votes of 3 070 out of 3512 polling stations, Mikhail Saakashvili, gained 52.1% of votes and the candidate from the combined opposition, Levan Gachechiladze, gained 24.98% (442,478 votes).
According to the early report of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, 1,912,943 or 56.17% of the voters took part in the elections.
As per Georgia's Constitution, whoever gains 50% of the votes plus 1 will be elected President in the first round.