BRUSSELS, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The voting public in Georgia is commended for their strong support for democratic principles, leaders from the European Union said.
Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy chief for the European Union, and EU Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule issued a joint statement of support for the democratic process in Georgia.
"We congratulate the Georgian people on this demonstration of their country's strong democratic credentials," they said Monday. "We welcome the preliminary report of the [OSCE] observation mission."
The Central Election Commission published preliminary results Monday showing Georgian Dream coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili took 62 percent of the vote. A 50 percent plus-one victory was needed to secure an outright win.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said 23 candidates competed for president in an open and transparent fashion. The mission lamented that personal politics played a dominant role in the election.
Margvelashvili hails from the Georgian Dream coalition, supported by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Second-place candidate Davit Bakradze was the candidate from the United National Movement, backed by outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Saakashvili was ineligible to run because of term limits. Georgia passed laws recently that diminish the power of the president.
Georgia is seeking a closer relationship with the EU.