Prime minister's pick wins easily in Georgia
TBILISI, Georgia — Giorgi Margvelashvili, a onetime mountain guide who forged a reputation in politics as a moderate voice of reason, won the presidential election in Georgia on Sunday with backing from the prime minister's ruling coalition.
By late Sunday, Margvelashvili was leading with about two-thirds of the vote, according to exit polls conducted by the German polling agency GFK, prompting his main opponent to concede.
Margvelashvili, 44, had the backing of powerful Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream ruling coalition. He had been serving as minister of education and science in Ivanishvili's government.
His election could portend a period of relative stability for Georgia, a former Soviet republic whose politics at times have been tumultuous and whose relations with neighboring Russia have been tense at best and have flared into open conflict.
“In the person of Margvelashvili, we got a young, talented and very promising politician who will certainly try to lead a nonconfrontational dialogue with Russia,” said Ramaz Sakvarelidze, an independent political analyst.
Margvelashvili will succeed Mikheil Saakashvili, who came to power in 2004 in the so-called Rose Revolution. Saakashvili and his United National Movement supported David Bakradze, who received barely 20 percent of the vote, according to the exit polls.
The winner thanked his team and his former boss, Ivanishvili.