Georgians voted in presidential elections on Sunday, with two former foreign ministers as the frontrunners for the largely ceremonial office. French-born Salome Zurabishvili is projected to be elected with 52.3 percent of votes, according to the exit polls funded by the ruling Georgian Dream party that is backing her, with anti-corruption Grigol Vashadze of the main opposition party expected to secure only 28.1 percent. But later on Sunday, the speaker of the parliament from the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, said at a news conference that the results from 1,000 polling stations suggested that there would be a second round. Fifty percent plus one vote is needed to win the first round.
The election is seen as a crucial test for the increasingly unpopular Georgian Dream party and will be the last in which the president is selected by popular vote. In the future, presidents will be picked by an electoral college of 300 legislators and regional officials.
Polls opened at 8am local time (04:00 GMT) and closed at 8pm local time (16:00 GMT). According to the official data, the turnout was 46.74 percent.
Results are expected late on Sunday. Should the vote go to a runoff, a second round will be held before December 1.