Georgia, part of the former Soviet Union, held elections this week. Hearteningly, voters replaced a freely elected civilian president with one from a different political party.
The winner was Giorgi Margvelashvili of the Georgian Dream party. New rules, which will take effect in January, put most power in the hands of the country’s prime minister.
Georgia has not had an easy time since the breakup of the Soviet Union. In the wake of a war in 2008 with Russia, two of Georgia’s provinces tried to secede. President George W. Bush began military assistance to Georgia, but left it flat during its war with Russia. Still, Georgia provided troops to the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Georgia aspires to membership in NATO and the European Union. Charges of corruption and human rights abuses push the likelihood of fulfilling those aspirations into the future. But this week’s successful elections help build the Georgians’ case.