Making History: 2013 Presidential Elections in Georgia

Publication Date: 
29 Oct 2013

Georgia held presidential elections on October 27, 2013. Over 1.6 million voters visited 3,741 polling stations in Georgia and 52 polling stations abroad to elect the next President for a five-year mandate.

Nermin Nisic, IFES Chief of Party in Georgia, speaks to us about Election Day and what comes next.

What was at stake in this election?

After the inauguration of the new President on November 17, a series of constitutional amendments passed by parliament between 2010 and 2013 will enter into force, significantly reducing the powers of the President in favor of the Prime Minister and parliament.

This election represents the second peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box for Georgia; the first occurred after the October 2012 parliamentary elections. It is the first peaceful transfer of power for a President.

What was the voter turnout?

Of the 3,537,719 officially registered voters, a total of 1,661,273 citizens – in-country and abroad – cast their ballots for the next President from a group of 23 candidates.

The reported turnout of 46.96 percent was lower than in recent Georgian elections. Turnout was 49.11 percent in the 2010 local elections and 61.31 percent in the 2012 parliamentary elections.

Were there efforts to make this election more accessible for persons with disabilities and for those citizens who speak languages other than Georgian?

An innovation of the 2013 presidential election was the introduction of a tactile ballot guide at each polling station. These ballot guides assisted voters with visual impairments to cast their ballots independently rather than requesting the assistance of another voter.

Voters using wheelchairs benefited from polling booths adapted for wheelchair-users set up in 800 polling stations throughout the country.

IFES and the Central Election Commission (CEC) worked together to ensure more than a dozen polling sites were equipped with mobile access ramps.

Additionally, through CEC and IFES support, local umbrella group Coalition for Independent Living deployed mobile teams and transported voters in wheelchairs to cast ballots at polling stations in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Gori, Batumi and Poti.

Voters in ethnic minority regions benefited from bilingual ballots available in those regions. These ballots had Georgian script and either the Armenian or Azerbaijani language equivalents. Additionally, with IFES support, all election material and polling manuals were translated from Georgian into Azerbaijani and Armenian.

Who observed the election?

A total of 60 domestic (with 19,746 accredited observers) and 65 international observer organizations (1,241 accredited observers) were registered by the CEC for the October 27 presidential election. An additional 152 media organizations – encompassing 1,381 journalists – were also accredited ahead of Election Day. This included 84 international media outlets.

When are results expected?

The CEC announced preliminary results on October 28, the day after the polls closed. Final results will be announced no later than November 16, by which date all complaints and appeals must be adjudicated.

According to preliminary results, Giorgi Margvelashvili of the Georgian Dream coalition, prevailed in the first round with 62.11 percent of the vote. He was followed by David Bakradze of the former ruling United National Movement with 21.73 percent, Nino Burjanadze of the Democratic Movement–United Georgia with 10.18 percent, Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor Party with 2.88 percent and Giorgi Targamadze of Christian-Democratic Movement with 1.06 percent.

Other candidates received less than 1 percent of votes.

When will the newly-elected President take office?

The President-elect shall take office after the announcement of final results by the CEC, which should happen no later than November 16.

The Chairperson of the Rules and Procedures Committee of the Parliament announced the inauguration of the President will take place on November 17. However, this is subject to final confirmation of the official election results by the CEC.