Politics 28-11-2018

Georgia starts voting to elect its president

The Georgians began voting on Wednesday to elect their president in a crucial second round for the party in power and a test facing the legislative of 2020.

The president has primarily symbolic powers but the election prefigures the duel between the Georgian Dream, the party in power, and the opposition in the face of the legislative within two years.

This is the last direct presidential election in this former Soviet republic of the Caucasus before moving to a parliamentary regime.

The polling stations opened at 08h00 local (04H00 GMT) and will close at 16h00 GMT. The first results are expected during the night.

The second round faces the Franco-Georgian Salome Zourabichvili, supported by Georgian Dream, and the opponent Grigol Vachadzé, supported by the National Movement - the party of former President Mikhail Saakachvili, now in exile - and ten other political formations.

Zourabichvili, 66, got 38.64% in the first round, compared to 37.73% of the opponent Grigol Vachadzé, 60.

A victory by Grigol Vachadzé would mark a turning point in the political landscape of Georgia and put an end to the dominance of Georgian Dream, in power since 2012.

That is why the former prime minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanichvili, officially retired from politics, came out of silence after the bad result of Zourabichvili.

"I know you are not satisfied because your life has not improved," he said on television, with tears in his eyes.

Ivanichvili has a fortune estimated at 4,600 million dollars, according to Forbes, a figure that represents one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Now he has promised to increase social spending and even settle the small bank debts of 600,000 people, an announcement that several NGOs consider "an unprecedented purchase of votes."


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