With votes counted at over 70 percent of the country’s polling stations, Giorgi Margvelashvili (C) received 62.13 percent of the voteWith ballots counted at the majority of Georgia’s polling stations, an opponent of outgoing president Mikheil Saakashvili has a solid lead in the presidential vote, electoral authorities said on Monday, en.ria.ru/world reports.
With votes counted at over 70 percent of the country’s polling stations, Giorgi Margvelashvili from the anti-Saakashvili Georgian Dream party received 62.13 percent of the vote.
Margvelashvili is a close ally of Georgian Prime Minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who led Georgian Dream to a crushing victory over Saakashvili’s United National Movement in parliamentary polls in 2012.
His political opponent Davit Bakradze of Saakashvili’s United National Movement is second with 21.88 percent.
Both front-runners in the election pledged to continue policies of integration with the European Union and NATO, and have indicated a willingness to improve ties with Russia, which soured badly under Saakashvili.
Twenty three candidates took part in Sunday's elections in the South Caucasus nation, but the presidential position is less powerful than it was under Saakashvili after laws passed earlier this year diluted presidential powers.
Nino Burjanadze, a former parliament speaker and a leader of the 2003 "rose revolution" that brought Saakashvili to power, gathered 10.07 percent.
The remaining 20 candidates failed to gain more than three percent of the vote.
Turnout among the country’s 3.5 million registered voters was 46.6 percent, according to the country’s election commission.
Georgia’s Central Election Commission chief Tamar Zhvania praised the elections as “yet another success by the people of Georgia.”
“It is very important that everything was peaceful, with no serious violations or incidents,” she said.