Georgians choose new president directly for last time

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Voters in Georgia are choosing a new president for the former Soviet republic, the last time the president will be elected by direct ballot.

Opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s election suggested that none of the 25 candidates is likely to receive the absolute majority need for a first-round win. If no one wins 50 percent support, a runoff between the top two candidates is to be held by Dec. 1.

After the new president’s six-year term in completed, future presidents are to be chosen by a delegate system, part of constitutional changes that make the prime minister the most powerful political figure in Georgia. The president functions as head of state and commander in chief but is otherwise largely ceremonial.

The three top contenders are all former foreign ministers: Salome Zurabishvili, Grigol Vashadze and David Bakradze.

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