Sunday, January 6, 2008

What happened with NATO?

An interesting result being mostly overlooked is the unexpectedly large "no" vote on a plebiscite asking Georgians if they want to join NATO.

According to the most credible exit poll tonight, 61% voted for NATO membership, 17.7% against and 21.3% refused to reveal their vote.

17.7%, while still low, far outstrips what most observers judge the genuine anti-NATO sentiment in Georgia to be. I suspect the high percentage against came as part of the anti-Saakashvili protest votes we expected to see today.

Gutbrod agrees, explaining perhaps with greater accuracy that the vote was for "more nuance and a more balanced rhetoric" regarding NATO accession.

And, as expected, the exit poll showed a strong majority of voters (64%) asking for parliamentary elections in spring. The vote is not legally binding, though there are ruling party suggestions of passing a constitutional amendment to make the plebiscites legally and retroactively binding -- a clear suggestion of political commitment to the results, even if the government does not follow through with an actual amendment.


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