Georgian Dream Party candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili elected president

Oct. 28, 2013 at 11:16 AM

TBILISI, Georgia, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Giorgi Margvelashvili of the Georgian Dream Party claimed 62.13 percent of the vote to become Georgia's next president, election officials said Monday.

Margvelashvili is an ally of Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who led Georgian Dream to a victory over outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement in parliamentary elections last year, RIA Novosti reported.

Davit Bakradze of Saakashvili's United National Movement was second in Sunday's polling, taking 21.88 percent of the vote after more than 70 percent of the vote had been counted, election officials said.

Twenty-three candidates were on the ballot.

Tamar Zhvania, head of Georgia's Central Election Commission, called the elections "yet another success by the people of Georgia."

"It is very important that everything was peaceful, with no serious violations or incidents," she said.

Election officials said turnout was relatively low, 46.6 percent, compared with 61 percent in parliamentary balloting a year ago.

Ivanishvili plans to step down soon in favor of an unnamed successor, so it is unclear who would be prime minister, now the most powerful political office in Georgia because of a change to the country's Constitution, The New York Times reported.

Under the changes that are effective with the inauguration of the new president, the prime minister, chosen by Parliament, becomes the head of the government with full authority over domestic and foreign policy. The president is head of state and commander in chief, but cannot introduce legislation or propose the state budget.

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