Georgia’s presidential election will go to a second round runoff between two of the country’s former foreign ministers after no single candidate won outright in the first round of voting, the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday. After all the votes from Sunday’s first round of voting had been counted French-born former diplomat and foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili had secured 38.7 percent of the vote, while Grigol Vashadze, also a former foreign minister, had won 37.7 percent of the vote, the CEC said. With neither managing to get more than 50 percent of the vote necessary to win outright, a runoff between Zurabishvili and Vashadze will now be held sometime between now and Dec. 2.
Constitutional changes have weakened the power of the presidency, handing most authority to the office of prime minister.
But the post is still seen as important for the image abroad of a country which is strongly oriented towards the West and fearful of Russia, which fought a short war against Georgia a decade ago after which it recognised the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions.
The country of 3.7 million people is Washington’s strategic ally in the Caucasus region. It also hopes to eventually join the EU and NATO. Pipelines carrying Caspian oil and gas to Europe run across its territory.