Georgia has elected Salome Zurabishvili as its president, making her the first woman to hold the office. The 66-year-old former foreign minister was backed by the ruling party in Georgia – the Georgian Dream Party – created by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Zurabishvili defeated Grigol Vashadze, her opponent from the United Opposition, by 59.5% to 40.5% in Wednesday’s runoff with 99.9% votes counted, as reported by Georgia’s Central Election Commission on its website. She is also to be the first woman elected president in any former Soviet republic outside the Baltic states. “Our choice is to have dialogue with those who did not vote for me and those who don’t share our views,” the French-born, ex-diplomat, Zurabishvili, told reporters late on Wednesday. “We must live together.”

Zurabishvili was born in Paris after her family fled from Georgia in 1921 after the country’s annexation by the Red Army. Her career in French Foreign Service led to her posting in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, as ambassador in 2003. After that, the then president, Saakashvili, appointed her as the foreign minister. Zurabishvili has shown her favour in balancing Georgia’s ties with Russia and the West.

The Importance of this election :

  • The elections were watched by the Western countries as a test of democracy in a country seeking membership in European Union and NATO.
  • They are a trial run for the parliamentary elections taking place in the country in 2020 with stiff competition from many opposition parties.
  • It was Georgia’s last direct leadership poll as the country now transitions to a parliamentary government after the constitutional reforms brought last year.

The elections have been criticized on the grounds of being unfair and rigged but the ruling party denied all the allegations.
There were 3.5 million eligible voters in the election and the turnout was 56.23 per cent.

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Picture Credits: BBC

Rachna Chandira is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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