Presidential win in Georgia
Presidential win in Georgia Courtesy

In a tough and unpredictable election against the Georgian opposition, an election campaign filled with dramatic turnovers, shifts in support, demonstrations and passionate discourse ended today with a victory for Salome Zorabashvili, the first woman in the history of Georgia to serve as president.

At the center of the second-round elections were the Israeli strategic advisers of the elected president, Moshe Klughaft and Sefi Shaked. They arrived in Georgia after winning the general elections in Romania as well as other campaigns. They injected much need life and innovative methods into the campaign as Klughaft himself became a central target of opposition attacks, claiming that he "did not understand the Georgian mentality."

The presidential candidate, who had previously been Georgia's Foreign Minister as well as the French Ambassador to Georgia, completely turned things around after barely reaching the second-round. Polls earlier this month showed that she was 12% behind the right-wing candidate, Grigol Vashadze, however according to all indications, Zorabashvili won the second-round by a margin of 58%-42%.

Salome Zorabashvili, an independent candidate supported by the Georgian Dream ruling party, barely reached the second round. The polls were showing her to be in a difficult situation and was suffering from serious negative momentum against her. Shaked and Klughaft cancelled her existing direction - "Together for Georgia," which was too conservative and failed to inspire the voters. Shaked and Klughaft re-photographed the candidate for more leadership-like billboards and signs, changed the slogan of the candidate's campaign to "crucial choice," and brought a far more aggressive approach against her rival. The campaign then focused on the question of freedom and pluralism in Georgia over individual personality.

Among other things, the new campaign linked Zorabashvili’s challenger, Grigol Vashadse of the National Party, to violence, corruption, abuse of opponents of their regime, and the silencing of senior party members. The change in campaign direction led to it plunging in the polls and to the strengthening of Klughaft and Shaked’s candidate. The changing trend led to former President Sakashvili losing his calm facade. In an interview with Georgian television, Sakashvili stated that Zorabashvili had a "Jewish adviser" alongside other Anti-Semitic statements. Even though former president Sakashvili apologized after the initial storm passed, Klughaft required personal security during his last week in the country and was defined as a "protected citizen" by the government.