This story was updated at 3AM EST, October 3.
Stunning parliamentary election results are sending Georgia into uncharted territory for a post-Soviet state: two relatively equally balanced political forces now must learn the art of legislative give-and-take.
President Mikheil Saakashvili on October 2 conceded defeat on behalf of the party he leads, paving the way for a parliamentary power tug-of-war with billionaire opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The president’s concession marked a dramatic fall from grace for the United National Movement (UNM), which, just a month ago, seemed poised to breeze to a solid victory in the October 1 elections. The party had encountered little or no opposition to its hold on parliament since 2004.
With just over 97 percent of the votes counted, preliminary results showed Ivanishvili’s six-party Georgian Dream coalition leading the UNM by a steady margin in the proportional voting. The Georgian Dream has a three-seat advantage over the UNM in the 73 first-past-the-post races.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.