By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) – Salome Zourabichvili has been elected Georgia's first female president, according to preliminary results from Wednesday's second round of polls.
Zourabichvili, a government-backed independent candidate, won with 59.52 percent of some 1.98 million votes cast, said Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC).
Grigol Vashadze — backed by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili — got some 40.48 percent of the vote.
In the polls, Georgians voted for the nation’s last popularly elected president, with lawmakers set to choose the leader from now on, heralding a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government in 2023.
Under constitutional changes approved last year, the presidential post will be more symbolic than powerful.
The new president is expected to take office on Dec. 16.
Zourabichvili, a French-born diplomat, served in various posts abroad for the French Foreign Service, including ambassador to Georgia.
After serving as Georgia’s foreign minister from 2004 to 2005, she led the Georgia’s Way party from 2006 to 2015.
Before running for president, she gave up her French citizenship.