That air of calm was briefly punctured on Tuesday afternoon, however, during a combative, 90-minute press conference that Ivanishvili gave at his Georgian Dream headquarters, a smart, modern building abutting the Mtkvari River. There, he launched what the Associated Press labeled "a vicious attack on President Saakashvili," including a demand for him to resign and call an early presidential election, despite the fact that Sakashvili's term does not expire until October of 2013. "This call is totally unacceptable and is a direct attack against democracy and the rule of law," Wilfried Martens, the President of the European People's Party, of which the UNM is an observer-member, said.
In contrast to Saakashvili's gracious tone, the Georgian Dream leader was defiant. "Violence and torture and lies were successful in Georgia because they were the fruits and products of Saakashvili's ideology," Ivanishvili said, deploying the same sort of lurid rhetoric he has used throughout the campaign. "His people were brainwashed and working in an environment of lies." Such talk is not conducive to cooperation in a parliament that is roughly divided in half, nor does it portend well for the post-election atmosphere of comity and brotherhood that both candidates say they wish to create. Rumors are already spreading in the capital that certain high-ranking members of the government may need to make plans to leave the country, in fear of retributive prosecution along the lines of what befell Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In light of the government's reaction to the election results, it's worth looking back at the apocalyptic predictions the opposition and its supporters were making right up until the close of the polls last night. "I'm doing everything in my capacity not to allow Syria in Georgia," Ivanishvili told Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin. Lincoln Mitchell, a professor at Columbia University's Harriman Institute and one of Ivanishvili's most vocal supporters in the United States, wrote that the images of a prisoner being raped with a broom handle "demonstrate[ed] the nature of life in Georgia today." He went onto claim that, "the Georgian government has, recklessly, made it clear that they will steal the election if necessary while daring anybody to stop them." As late as April of this year, the American Conservative's Daniel Larison alleged that Saakashvili had "created a one-party state." Full-page ads purchased by Ivanishvili in the New York Times and Washington Post accused Sakashvili of perpetrating an "almost neo-Bolshevik style of governance."
Bolsheviks, neo or otherwise, tend not to hold free and fair elections, never mind hand over power peacefully. And it's a strange "one-party state" where a party loses an election to another. Ceding power to a man he clearly loathes, Saakashvili has unambiguously refuted the many who had alleged he would "pull a Putin" by attempting to stay in power via making himself Prime Minister. He has passed the "litmus test" that that this election posed to Georgia; the question is now whether his adversary is up to the same task.