Despite the continuing pressure from Russia, Georgia has been able to hold presidential elections that have been generally recognised as free and fair.
The incumbent, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been able to hold on to office, with about 52% of the vote. It is a slap in the face to Russia, which is the only country that has refused to recognise the elections as free and fair. Despite the intimidation, subversion and occasional violence, Russia has not been able to achieve its goal of undermining the independent minded Mr. Saakashvili and replacing him with someone more compliant to Russian wishes.
When the Russian fomented protests forced the election, there were concerns expressed that Mr. Saakashvili would attempt to create an authoritarian regime, similar to those in neighbouring Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, the continued engagement with liberalism, openness and democracy by the government has allowed a democratic solution to emerge. Despite desultory protests, the fact is that the elections, closely watched by international observers have indeed been free and fair.
As the Putin regime continues to challenge the West- the latest action being the appointment of the outspoken nationalist Dmitri Rogozin as Ambassador to NATO- the re-election of Saakhashvili is a significant victory for the forces of Liberalism against the faltering dead-end authoritarianism of the anti liberal Vladimir Putin. It remains to be seen, whether either the West or Mr. Saakhashvili himself can effectively capitalise on this victory, but it is a token of hope.