On November 28th, Georgians voted in the second round of the presidential elections. With most votes counted, Salome Zurabishvili was ahead approximately 20 percent of her rival Grigol Vashadze.
The French-born ex-diplomat will become the first female president of Georgia.
President-elect Zurabishvili had a career in the French foreign service and served as an ambassador and as the foreign minister of Georgia.
Zurabishvili, 66, an independent candidate was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party and Vashadze was backed by an alliance led by former president Mikheil Saakashvilli.
The first round of Georgia’s presidential elections was held on October 28th. Though Zurabishvili gained the most votes, she failed to win more than 50 percent of the votes, with 39 percent. Opposition leader Grigol Vashadze won 38 percent of the vote.
Following the constitutional reforms adopted last year, the country will be switching to a parliamentary system, making the 2018 elections the last direct election of a Georgian president.
While the role of president is largely ceremonial, the presidential election was significant because it was viewed as an indicator of how the 2020 parliamentary elections will proceed. The 2018 election was seen as a choice between pro-EU Zurabishvili and more U.S.-oriented Vashadze.
Georgia is seeking memberships of the European Union and NATO, though both attempts were thwarted by the Russian presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
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