Destinations Magazine

Georgia’s Election: The End of Saakashvili’s Reign

By Stizzard

GEORGIA’S presidential election on October 27th was at once momentous and also rather unexciting. Momentous, because the vote marked the end of the nearly decade-long rule of Mikheil Saakashvili, the outgoing president, and of the country’s presidential system itself. In a switch put in motion by Mr Saakashvili in 2010, the inauguration of his successor will see Georgia switch to a parliamentary system in which much of the power is held by the prime minister.The vote was unexciting, because it was a rare case of an orderly transfer of power in the post-Soviet world. Election day passed without serious irregularities or unrest. The candidate from the Georgian Dream coalition, Georgy Margvelashvili, won the presidential election with 62% of the vote. He is the protégé of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the all-powerful prime minister. David Bakradze from Mr Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) came in second, with 22%.Mr Ivanishvili, a tycoon with an estimated fortune of $ 5.3 billion, has done much to upend Georgian politics since he emerged from behind a veil of seclusion in 2011 to challenge Mr Saakashvili. Georgian Dream, a hotch-potch of political forces ranging from liberals who defected from Mr Saakashvili’s camp to Georgian nationalists, beat Mr Saakashvili’s UNM in elections last year.As he celebrated Mr Margvelashvili’s victory, Mr Ivanishvili promised that “next year…

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