Kakha Kaladze, a former defender for Italian club AC Milan, was elected mayor of Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, as the country’s ruling Georgian Dream party won a majority of seats in local councils, Reuters reported.
Kaladze, who ran as a candidate for the Georgian Dream party, took 51.13 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results from Saturday’s elections released on Sunday by the Central Election Commission.
Kaladze entered politics in 2011, the year he retired from football, becoming an active supporter of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the Georgian Dream party and Georgia’s richest man. He has served as energy minister and deputy prime minister in governments dominated by Ivanishvili’s allies.
Georgian Dream candidates led in most of the 64 municipalities and the party got 55.66 percent of the total vote, cementing its grip on power in the ex-Soviet republic, a country that straddles an energy supply route to Europe and is an arena of strategic rivalry between Russia and the West.
Three opposition parties managed to cross the four percent barrier, which in Georgia’s proportional-representation system gave them seats in the various municipalities: the United National Movement with 17.05 percent, the European Georgia with 10.51 percent and Alliance of Patriots with 6.53 percent.
All the opposition parties and candidates said the elections had been marred by irregularities and intimidation.