Second round of presidential elections starts in Georgia
The second round of presidential elections has started in Georgia. Today voters will have to vote for their favorite candidate between the two who have succeeded in the first round of presidential elections on October 28.
During the election runoff voters will have to make choice between the independent candidate Salome Zourabichvili supported by the ruling Georgian Dream party and the candidate of United National Movement Grigol Vashadze.
In the first round of the presidential elections Zourabichvili has received 38.64% of total votes, while Vashadze had been supported by 37.74% of voters. The election turnout was 45.4%.
The president will be elected to a six-year term: this is also the last time the president will be elected by direct vote.
Since 8:00am, 3 703 Polling stations are open for voters, including 55 abroad. 3,528,658 voters are included in the official voters list published by the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC). The polling stations will be closed at 8pm in Georgia and at 00:00 abroad.
More than 49,000 observers from local and international organisations are observing the election runoff in Georgia.
The head of the Institute of Management Strategy, Petre Mamradze, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that today we should expect spontaneous self-mobilization of the population for the elections to vote against Vashadze, not in order to support Zurabishvili. "People understood that Saakashvili’s protege may return to power. More than half of the voters did not go to the polls in the first round, many voters voted both against Saakashvili and the Georgian Dream then, which disappointed citizens’ expectations - but now the same people say they will vote against Saakashvili," he explained.
"Major rallies were held in Tbilisi, not attended by the Georgian Dream and Zurabishvili’s team, where people said that they were dissatisfied with the existing government, but still it's nothing compared to Saakashvili's anti-state regime. I also participated in some events and heard people say directly that going to the second round and cross out both candidates is impossible, because it's about Georgia’s national security. It can determine the outcome of the election in favor of Zurabishvili," Petre Mamradze stressed.
The political scientist Giorgi Nodia agreed that the election campaign eventually degenerated into agitation against Mikhail Saakashvili. "In fact, 90% of its rhetoric was that the UNM, represented by Vashadze, is presented as an absolute evil, and people must say 'No!' to this absolute evil. It was the essence of almost entire campaign of the Georgian Dream, which has ceased to be de facto campaign in support of Zurabishvili," he said.
"The result of the first round was unsatisfactory for Zurabishvili, so the campaign against Vashadze was very active. Many talk about pressure on the population, about mass bribing of voters through writing-off debts of 600 thousand people. And Zurabishvili was transferred to the shadow to avoid her interference with the campaign. Her posters didn't contain her photo, showing portraits of Bidzina Ivanishvili and other leaders of the Georgian Dream instead. That is, the campaign changed completely after the first round, because the government tried to attract additional votes," Giorgi Nodia concluded.