Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born former foreign minister, has won the first round of Georgia’s presidential election, but without enough support to avoid a runoff against her closest rival, Grigol Vashadze. Mrs Zurabishvili, who ran as an independent but was backed by the ruling Georgia Dream party, secured 38.6 per cent of the vote, with Mr Vashadze taking 37.7 per cent.
Former parliament speaker Davit Bakradze, who was nominated by the opposition European Georgia party, was a distant third with 10.9 per cent. Turnout was 46.7 per cent.
According to Georgian law, a runoff must be held within two weeks after the election commission publishes the final results of the first round.
The presidential election, Georgia’s seventh since 1991, will be the last in which the head of state will be elected by direct ballot.
In 2017, the constitution was amended so that future presidents would be elected by a 300-member College of Electors, comprising parliamentarians and local and regional political representatives.