Georgian Dream takes first round victory in presidential vote

By bne IntelliNews October 28, 2013

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Georgian Dream candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili claimed victory just an hour after polling stations in Georgia's presidential election closed on October 27. The focus now turns to an expected change of prime minister.

With the final tally still to be announced, Margvelashvili, the clear winner according to preliminary results and exit polls, made a victory speech outside his party's headquarters late on October 27. Preliminary results give Margvelashvili a clear victory in the first round of voting, having taken 63.34% of votes cast.

Davit Bakradze, the candidate for outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) came in second with 21.15%, followed by former Saakashvili ally turned opposition politician Nino Burjanadze with 9.66%.

Speaking to supporters, Margvelashvili thanked the movement's founder, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili for "making this victory possible", Civil Georgia reported. "We have demonstrated to the entire world that the free nation elects freely its leadership, those persons, who should serve this nation," he said.

With victory for Margvelashvili widely expected, turnout was relatively low at just 46.6% according to the CEC. Post election protests seem unlikely, with both Bakradze and Saakashvili already urging acceptance of the result.

"Georgian voters have spoken and I want to tell everyone who is unhappy with these results we should all respect the majority's opinion because the majority resolves such issues in a democracy," Saakashvili said in a speech.

Margvelashvili will take on a reduced role as president, since constitutional changes coming into force following the elections will transfer many of the post's powers to the parliament and the prime minister.

Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition came to power in October 2012, has pledged to stand down shortly after the election, and hand over his role to an as yet unnamed successor. The immediate question following the presidential elections is who will be the country's next prime minister.

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