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.

Georgia prepares to choose “the man on the white horse”. Or is it just his horse?

The race is on for the office of President of Georgia after the governing Georgian Dream coalition led by Bidhzina Ivanishvili announced that it will nominate Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Giorgi Margvelashvili to the post. Given the massive victory that Georgian Dream registered in last October’s parliamentary elections and its continued popularity in recent opinion polls, Margvelashvili starts the race as the favourite to win.

The office of President of Georgia will be divested from most of its powers after the October elections following constitutional amendments that the previous government of Mikhail Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) pushed through before its election defeat. Executive power will now be vested in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The UNM still has to nominate its candidate for the elections, and has announced that it will do primaries to select its candidate. A number of other Georgian personalities are considering contesting as independent candidates.

Georgians have traditionally looked for “a man on the white horse” to lead them.  Georgian history is full of imagery of Georgian leaders, usually men, and on one or two occasions also women, riding into battle on horseback, often slaying a dragon. This time round the situation is rather confusing since the first person in the country will not be the one with the effective power. More…