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Saakashvili Party May Win Vote as Billionaire Gains, Poll Shows

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party may win parliamentary elections if they were held tomorrow, while billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s planned opposition group would garner almost a fifth of the vote, a poll showed.

As many as 42 percent of Georgians would back Saakashvili’s National Movement, according to a survey conducted by the International Republican Institute and scheduled for publication this month, lawmaker Giorgi Gabashvili said by phone from the capital, Tbilisi, today.

The nationwide survey of 4,000 people showed Ivanishvili, who plans to lead an opposition party in next October’s vote, would get 18 percent. The poll was conducted last month and has a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points.

Saakashvili, whose second and final term ends in 2013, has been accused by opposition politicians, including former United Nations envoy Irakli Alasania, of rolling back democratic freedoms. Still, 32 percent of Georgians would vote for a representative from his party at the next presidential elections, according to the poll.

Ivanishvili, 55, whose wealth was estimated at $5.5 billion by Forbes magazine in March, held talks with opposition leaders including Alasania in October. Georgia revoked his citizenship that month.

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