Georgia has a new President, and starts a new page in its history.

Giorgi Margvelashvili

Giorgi Margvelashvili

Georgia has a new President. Following Presidential elections held on Sunday that passed without any major incidents, Giorgi Margvelashvili, the candidate of the Georgian Dream coalition that hold the government and a majority in parliament, has emerged as the outright winner according to various opinion polls. The runner up, and candidate of the United National Movement, David Bakradze, has conceded defeat and congratulated Margvelashvili on his victory.

Turnout in the election was lower than in the Parliamentary elections in 2012 but enough to ensure that a re-run is not necessary.

This is a turning point for Georgia in all kinds of ways, and set a completely unprecedented and unique pattern of doing politics in the Caucasus region. Whilst Georgia has now turned the page in its modern political history a new set of leadership, quite unknown to the Georgian public are set to take the front line. Georgia still faces many serious problems, political, institutional and most of all economic. Yet the new leadership have a unique opportunity to build a new future for the Caucasus republic.

There will be more on the Georgian elections on Caucasus Elections Watch over the coming days.

Polling closes in Georgian Presidential election.

16.00 GMT: polling has closed in Georgia’s Presidential election. Turnout was considerably lower than at Parliamentary elections last year. There were reports from domestic election monitoring organisations of isolated cases of violations, and a serious case where a group of around 250 voters were not on the voters list in Adjara.

13.00 GMT:  Georgians wait in anticipation to see what will be the result of the first election that will see their President being replaced through a normal electoral process. By 15.00 hpours local time the central Elections commission was reporting that 32.05% of the electorate had cast their vote. This is a significant 13% less than the number of those who voted by the same time during the parliamentary elections last year. The lowest turnout is reported in the mainly Azerbaijani speaking regions of Khvemo Kartli

10.30 GMT: Voter turnout in Georgian Presidential elections was 17.5% by 12 noon – compared to 25% at the same time in Parliamentary elections in 2012.  Commentators have noted that the lowest turnout so far is in the mainly Azerbaijani populated region of Khvemo Kartli. This region was infamous throughout the last two decades for abuses during voting, including ballot stuffing and multiple voting. A low voter turnout may for the first time reflect the reality, namely an Azerbaijani speaking population that often feels marginalised and far away from the political processes in the Tbilisi.  According to the Georgian CEC 58593 representing 14.4% of the electorate, had cast their vote by 12 noon.

08.15 GMT: 240,732 voters had cast their ballot in the first two hours of voting in Georgia this morning, according to a briefing by the Central Elections Commission. This constitutes 6.8% of the electorate. Although compared to the same amount of people voting in the same period in the Parliamentary elections in 2012 this figure is low, commentators think that the early turnout in 2012 was due to the highly charged political atmosphere of that time and that the current vote trend is more in line with previous election patterns where voting peaked around lunchtime.

07.00 GMT:  Presidential Elections are taking place in Georgia. 23 candidates are contesting for the post of Head of States.

All polling stations opened on time at 8.00 am and the election process is under way in a clam atmosphere, the Central Election Commission, said at a briefing on Sunday morning.

3, 537, 719 voters are eligible to cast their ballot. They can do so in 3, 689 election precincts in Georgia itself and 50 election precincts abroad.

The Presidential Elections will be observed by 47,000 election candidates and political party representatives, as well as by nearly 20,000 local and 1,300 international observers. The election process will be covered by 1,400 media representatives.

Commentary: Will Bidzina do a Nelson, or will he do a Sonia?

No soft touch. Bidhzina Ivanishvili is a shrewd self-made man.

No soft touch. Bidhzina Ivanishvili is a shrewd self-made man.

In this commentary Dennis Sammut says that Bidzina Ivanishvili is an enigmatic and often misunderstood leader who has been able to change Georgian politics in a very short time, and that despite his announced political retirement he is likely to remain a very significant person in Georgian public life.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s announcement that he will resign as prime minister and retire from mainstream politics one week after the presidential election on 27 October has left Georgians and everybody else astonished and bewildered, even though he had previously hinted that that is what he will do. More…

Editorial Comment: All for Georgians to lose!

The 27 October presidential election should bring political closure to twenty-five years of political upheaval, and can give Georgia what it aspires for. But there are some final tests yet.

Compared to previous elections in Georgia, the process of selecting a new president for the country on 27 October has proceeded without major problems. One week before the polls the main threat to the free expression of the will of the Georgian people seems to be apathy, rather than election fraud or manipulation.

Georgia’s political journey over the last twenty-five years has been tumultuous. The events on 9 April 1989, when Soviet OMON forces killed peaceful civilians on Rustaveli Avenue broke the unwritten accord between the Georgians and the Soviet leadership which had seen Georgia getting the best possible deal out of the Soviet system in return for political acquiescence. Ever since, Georgian politics has been a roller coaster of upheavals. Euphoria and disappointment alternated in regular short cycles, with wars, rebellion, revolution and repression added in for good measure. Yet this era of Georgian politics seems now to be coming to a close.

Georgia has had three presidents since it eventually regained its independence in December 1991 when the Soviet Union unceremoniously disintegrated. Most Georgians these days find it difficult to talk highly of any of them. More…

Margvelashvili launches programme ahead of Presidential election in Georgia.

 Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Candidate of the Georgian Dream Party has launched his political programme ahead of Presidential elections in Georgia on October 27. Speaking at a grandiose event which was also attended by Georgian Dream leader, Prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili, Margvelashvili outlined his vision of the Georgian Presidency in the future, saying that the president will be a guarantor of political freedom and a democratic system. More…

Azerbaijan snubs US pre-election mission; Georgia rolls out the red carpet.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia.

The Azerbaijani government refused to accept a US Government delegation ahead of the country’s forthcoming Presidential elections. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Baku said the visit of the delegation led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia, was “postponed at the request of the Azerbaijani government”. No reason was given. More…