Georgian Leaders Cast Ballot in Presidential Runoff

Today, Georgian citizens are electing their fifth president for a six-year term, replacing incumbent President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who has been in office since October, 2013.

The ruling party-backed candidate Salome Zurabishvili and UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze – who finished with 38.64% and 37.74% in the first round – contest the runoff.

Georgian officials, including the incumbent President, have already cast ballot at their respective polling stations in Tbilisi. Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II also made his choice.

Below are excerpts from their post-vote remarks.

President Giorgi MargvelashviliI am very happy and proud that Georgians are expressing their will so actively. For some, the choice may be difficult, but I would like to call on all Georgian citizens to come to polling stations, express their will and take part in the decision-making. I am sure that voter turnout will be high during the whole day, which will guarantee that elections are orderly, with fewer violations.

Prime Minister Mamuka BakhtadzeToday, I voted for peaceful development of Georgia, for our European choice. I would like to seize upon this opportunity and urge our citizens to be as active as possible, to come to polling stations and express their position, the position which is in the interests of Georgia’s development, in the interests of our and our children’s future.

Parliament Speaker Irakli KobakhidzeThe choice is very simple; there are two political forces – on the one side there is a political force known for its aggression, hatred and lies, and on the other side there is a force, which has left all of these in the past. Therefore, I am sure that it will not be difficult for voters to make a choice. I call on everyone to be active; low voter turnout in the first round helped this negative force receive high results. If voter turnout is high, the answer will be stronger as well.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha KaladzeI made my principled choice today; I voted against brutality and violence. What we need most today is peace, stability, progress and economic development. Societal divisions and marginalization of some groups, as it had happened for years [under the previous government], is categorically unacceptable for me. We should unite Georgia and we should do our utmost to ensure that our citizens live in a developed country.

GDDG Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili: I voted for dignity, justice and development in order to give final rejection to lies, violence and return to the past. We remember those years very well, we remember the working methods of the force which now competes with the Georgian Dream-backed candidate. We know this well and you see that there is a great mobilization of the population. Of course, there will be attempts to stir up incidents, but there is enough mobilization from the other side … I hope that we will write another page in our contemporary history – that we are an educated and a cultured nation, and will respond and disclose the lack of culture shown by our opponents.

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