Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian congratulated billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili Thursday on his Georgian Dream opposition bloc’s “brilliant” victory in Georgia’s parliamentary elections.
“I sincerely wish you and the coalition headed by you success in forthcoming activities to the benefit of Georgian statehood and further strengthening of friendly Armenian-Georgian relations,” Ter-Petrosian said in a letter reported by Armenian online news agencies.
Ivanishvili is widely expected to become Georgia’s next prime minister as a result of Monday’s elections. Remarkably, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili acknowledged his United National Movement party’s defeat in the polls.
Saakashvili is thus becoming the first post-Soviet government leader in the South Caucasus to effectively lose power through an electoral process. Armenian opposition politicians, analysts and media commentators have praised him for setting such a precedent.
As was the case in Georgia until recently, every election held in Armenia since independence has been won by incumbent presidents and their political allies amid opposition allegations of serious fraud. The most recent Armenian presidential ballot held in 2008 sparked deadly unrest in Yerevan. Ter-Petrosian, who was the main opposition candidate, considers himself the rightful winner of the vote.
The charismatic opposition leader himself was accused of vote rigging by his opponents when he served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998.