Georgians are going to the polls today to elect a new President. Following a calm and peaceful campaign, the people of Georgia now get to have their say by selecting one of 23 candidates contesting the election.
Front-runner, according to the opinion polls,is Giorgi Margvelashvili, the candidate of the Georgian Dream Coalition who has been personal;ly endorsed by popular Prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili appeared with Margvellashvili in a number of campaign events.The polls put former Parliamentary Speakers, Nino Burjanadze and David Baradze as possible distant runner-ups.
Commonspace.eu political editor said that the election marks a turning point in modern Georgian history. A president whose term has expired is being replaced through the ballot box in elections that have so far been seen as largely free and fair. Most international organisations will reserve judgement until they see how polling day turns out, as well as the counting process. But if all goes well this election will open serious prospects for Georgia to achieve its long-term asspiration of joining the nations of Europe as an equal partner.
The new situation that might emerge after the election has its dangers. If the Georgian Dream holds both the Presidency and the Government, as well as a majority in parliament the short process of co-habitation that existed in Georgia over the last year will come to an end, and with it the checks and balances that this model offered. There is nothing wrong in this in itself. Many countries have Presidents and Governments from the same party. In this scenario however the role of the judiciary and of civil society becomes very important, as well as proper scrutiny by parliament of the government's conduct. Focus will shift on the performance of these three sectors after the dust of the election settles down.
photo: Georgians voting in one of the polling stations in the Didube district (Picture courtesy of civil.ge)