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    Presidential election in Georgia, 28 October 2018.

    Exit Polls in Georgia Show Election Frontrunners Tied, Second Round Possible

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    TBILISI (Sputnik) - Two leading candidates in the presidential race in the country of Georgia appeared to be tied Sunday after failing to avert a runoff, an exit poll has shown.

    Salome Zourabichvili, an independent backed by the ruling Georgian Dream and rival Grigol Vashadze from the main opposition party each polled 40 percent, the Rustavi 2 TV channel said.

    Reports of a tie were corroborated by an exit poll by center-right European Georgia party, which suggested Zourabichvili came second with 34 percent, while Vashadze won 37 percent.

    A poll commissioned by Georgian Dream offered a conflicting outcome, showing Zourabichvili in the lead with 52.3 percent of votes, trailed by Vashadze with 28.1 percent. Polls closed in Georgia at 8 p.m. local time. A total of 25 candidates were running. The central electoral commission estimated the turnout at 38.6 percent as of 5 p.m. local time.

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    Following the results of thepolls, the speaker of Georgia’s national parliament has congratulated government-backed presidential hopeful Salome Zourabichvili on her victory.

    "I congratulate Salome on her decisive victory in the presidential race," Irakli Kobakhidze said at a press briefing after first returns came in.

    The candidate, however, stated that it was too early to pin down the preliminary data.

    "I thank all voters. These estimates are preliminary and we need to wait for the Central Election Commission’s official results," Zourabichvili said.

    Commenting on the turnout, the Georgian Central Election Commission's spokeswoman Ana Mikeladze noted that it had slightly increased comparing to 2013.

    "The turnout in the Georgian presidential election was 46.74 percent; a total of 1,637,956 people voted. The turnout in the 2013 presidential election was 45.4 percent," Mikeladze told reporters at a briefing.

    The vote is Georgia's last presidential election when the country's leader is elected directly by people. If no candidate manages to gain over 50 percent of the votes, the two most popular presidential hopefuls will move on to a second-round runoff.

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