Georgia Elects First Female President

All votes have now be counted and Salome Zurabishvili has been elected the 5th president of Georgia in the presidential runoffs on 28 November. As the first woman to ever run and succeed in the race for the presidential seat, her win is a historic moment for Georgia.

Supported by the ruling party, Georgian Dream, many Georgians are unsurprised by her victory, especially given her large 10 million lari campaign budget, three times that of Grigol Vashadze.

The significant victory was nonetheless often an uphill battle, faced with criticism about her poor level of Georgian and gender, as well as accusations of xenophobic comments and claiming Georgia started the 2008 war.

The French-born diplomat and former Foreign Minister was technically an independent candidate. She has pledged to remain uninfluenced by the ruling party Georgian Dream who have supported her throughout her campaign. However, during her time as an MP in parliament, she showed very little resistance to the party.

Zurabishvili has often underlined her desire to bring Georgia closer to NATO and the EU in order to “bring Georgian society together.”  She claimed that her negotiation skills, as a woman, may be more peaceful than that of her male counterparts.

According to results released by the CEC, Salome Zurabishvili was victorious with 1.147,627 votes (59.52%) compared to 780,633 votes (40.48%) for Grigol Vashadze. Zurabishvili led in all election districts aside from Rustavi and Telavi.

Throughout campaigns, the opposition complained of voting irregularities and attacks on campaigners, although this has been denied by the ruling party. Some international observers remarked that the first round of voting was not always fair.

The runoff vote is the last time a president will be directly elected in Georgia as constitutional reforms adopted last year will shift to parliamentary governance. Nonetheless, the election could be seen to be an indicator of the future results of parliamentary elections in 2020.

By Amy Jones 
Photo source: BBC
29 November 2018 10:20