Neither of the two front-runners in Georgia’s presidential election was likely to win enough votes to secure victory in the first round of voting, the first officials results show. The Central Election Commission (CEC) said that according to results from 14 percent of the polling stations, Salome Zurabishvili secured 40 percent of the vote and Grigol Vashadze won nearly 38 percent. Zurabishvili, a French-born former foreign minister, has the backing of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Vashadze, also an ex-foreign minister, is running for the opposition United National Movement (UNM). Their closest challenger, former parliament speaker Davit Bakradze, who was nominated by the opposition European Georgia party, was a distant third with 10.8 percent of the votes.
He had earlier conceded defeat and said his party will support Vashadze in the event of a runoff.
Turnout stood at 46.7 percent, according to the CEC, nearly the same figure as during the 2013 presidential election.
The presidential election, Georgia’s seventh since 1991, will be the last in which the head of state will be elected by direct ballot.
In 2017, the constitution was amended so that future presidents would be elected by a 300-member College of Electors, comprising parliamentarians and local and regional political representatives.