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Georgian Billionaire Losing Support to Saakashvili, Poll Shows

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Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s opposition coalition is losing support to President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party before parliamentary elections in October, a poll showed.

As many as 37 percent of likely voters would back Saakashvili’s National Movement if the ballot were held tomorrow, higher than 36 percent support in June, according to the National Democratic Institute, which conducted the survey. Ivanishvili’s party had 12 percent backing, down from 18 percent, Luis Navarro, the NDI’s country director, told reporters today in the capital, Tbilisi.

Ivanishvili, whose wealth Forbes puts at $6.4 billion, entered politics to challenge Saakashvili’s ruling party and displace Vano Merabishvili as the Black Sea nation’s next prime minister. Saakashvili’s second and final term as president ends in 2013.

The nationwide survey, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency, polled 2,038 people in August and has a margin of error of three percentage points. This is the last survey to be conducted before October’s elections, Navarro said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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