Zurabishvili elected Georgia’s first woman president

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(Tbilisi) – Georgia´s newly elected President Salome Zurabishvili hailed her victory as a step forward for women and a move closer to Europe for the ex-Soviet republic.

With all votes counted, the country´s election commission said the French-born ex-diplomat, backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, had taken 59.52 percent of the second-round vote.

Her rival Grigol Vashadze, from an alliance of 11 opposition parties led by exiled ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili´s United National Movement (UNM), took 40.48 percent.

The opposition denounced the election as a fraud. But while raising some serious concerns, foreign observers said the vote was “competitive” and well-run.

“It is now important to show that this country has chosen Europe,” Zurabishvili said told journalists after her win. “For that purpose, Georgians have elected a European woman president.”

“It feels great,” she said, pointing out that she was one of a small number of women presidents in the world.

The election was seen as a test of Georgia´s democratic credentials as it seeks European Union and NATO membership.

It was also a trial run for more important parliamentary elections in 2020, when Georgian Dream is set to face off against a range of opposition parties.