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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 16:47 GMT
Georgia elections: Will they make a difference?
Georgian opposition supporters
First results from Georgia's presidential election show the man who toppled President Eduard Shevardnadze gaining up to 97% of the vote.

The figure is based on returns from 25% of the country's polling stations, but lends weight to exit polls indicating a landslide win for Mikhail Saakashvili.

The US-educated lawyer told the BBC his top priorities were to tackle corruption and to make the country investor-friendly.

Will the elections in Georgia make a difference?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

This is the second velvet revolution in the east, the first being in Czechoslovakia that was for which hearty congratulations. But will it change anything that I will hold my breath on. It depends on what Saakashvili wants to achieve for his people and who he is up against. Tamar will you now go home and help you're country?
Tony, Welling, Kent

Mr Saakashvili was able to do what all of us young Georgian professionals living away from our country had to do. He is a type of a leader that was missed so much and so long by my country. He has a long very difficult way to go, but we are with you Mikhail, all of us who believe in freedom!
Tamar Kvartzkhava, United States

The massive wave of popular discontent that landed Mr. Saakashvili into the president's seat may soon turn against him if he fails to deliver on the promises he has made. The challenges of presidency are formidable and people's expectations maybe unreasonably high. How effectively, for example, will he be able to balance the interests of the two mammoth powers (US and Russia) fiercely competing for influence over this tiny nation? Is the man fit for the job? (He certainly seems to be confident. And, as the elections show, so is the entire Georgian nation). We wish him and all Georgians the best of luck!
David, Philadelphia, US

This change is great for Georgia, because Georgians are great people, you can trust Georgians more then you can trust yourself, they deserve much better and I believe Mr Saakashvili is the best man to make his country grow into a great independent nation, all the best from the Turkey!
Emre, Istanbul, Turkey

Saakashvili, figurehead of the revolution, might just represent the change Georgia needs
Ada, Islamabad, Pakistan
Saakashvili, figurehead of the revolution, might just represent the change Georgia needs. For one thing he is capable to fulfil the necessity of engaging coherently with both Russia and the West. And in spite of the difficulties faced in reshaping Georgia's political scenario, Saakashvili is surrounded by a core of professional politicians of proven ability to do so. Let's hope that he manages to comply with the eye-catching promises made, to tackle corruption at its core and to bring economical and political prosperity to such a restless region.
Ada, Islamabad, Pakistan

Yes, the elections in Georgia shall make a difference. Peaceful demonstrations, democratic reforms, perseverance, and hard work shall make Georgia an inspiration to other nations that endures a corrupt government.
Jill, Mayo, Florida, United States

It is nice that the people were able to make a peaceful change. However, expectations are very high. I hope people do not get disillusioned too quickly. Good luck to Mr. Saakashvili, and the people of Georgia on their newly elected Government.
Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Dominican Republic

I'm quite confident that the Saakashvili's victory in the elections in Georgia will bring positive results as he's young, highly motivated and talented. Hope all this will put an end to the poverty and bad situation formed in the neighbour country.
Haji Mammadov, Baku,Azerbaijan

I do hope that Georgia will become prosperous country. The newly elected president is free from Soviet era, old fashioned influence. I'm very happy that we did it. And the top priority of Georgian policy must be creation of investment friendly conditions.
Elene, Tbilisi, Georgia

I hope that the Georgian example will encourage my fellow-countrymen in Ukraine at this year's election.
SK, Moscow, Russia

I hope that the Georgian example will encourage my fellow-countrymen in Ukraine at this year's election.
SK, Moscow, Russia

A good friend of mine has family in Tbilisi, and I hope Saakashvili is able to bring about a better life for them. Shevardnadze has failed them.
Andrew, Chicago, IL USA

I spent a number of weeks over several years working in Tbilisi. I found Georgia and Georgians to be among the most civilised and sophisticated people of Europe. Georgia has its own Alphabet, one of only 15 in the world, more theatres in the city than pubs in Dublin and a tolerance for food and wine that would put the Scots to shame. I welcome Georgian revitalisation and hope Georgia rises again to be the land of the Argonauts and home of the dragon slain by St George!
Olaf Mackenzie, Bergen Norway

There will be more problems in Georgia. Russians and Americans have differences over Georgia, and people will be real losers at the end, there will be no changes in the next few years. People will go to change another leader again.
GB, Toronto Canada

In many countries where personalities entangle in possible conflict and it is difficult to distinguish between presidency and premiership, it would be better to opt for a presidential constitution such as in the French system.
Sophie, Malta

The election of the president will now restore the legitimacy of Georgian government
Kaha Kvachatadze, Woodbridge, New Jersey, USA

The election of the president will now restore the legitimacy of Georgian government, that was undermined by a pro-Shevardnadze coup in 1992, since all elections in Georgia after 1992 were forged.
Kaha Kvachatadze, Woodbridge, New Jersey, USA

President Eduard Shevardnadze and his right-winged dictatorship have destroyed a country whose living conditions where among the top in the former Soviet Union. Only a new government ruled by the people, for the people, can be acceptable for stability and prosperity in Georgia. If a new right-winged government continues to exploit the population to the benefit of multinational corporations, there can be no change, only further damage to the people./
Knut Hesten, Sortland, Norway

It will replace a corrupt independent government with a corrupt pro-USA government.
Richard Read, UK

It will replace a corrupt independent government with a corrupt pro-USA government allowing to complete the massive oil pipeline that it is currently building in the area.
Richard Read, UK

The real difference here is geopolitical; since the end of the cold war the main political aim of the western powers has been to draw the remains of the Soviet Union into a western sphere of influence, isolating Russia. The change of leader from soviet apparatchik to a western educated business leader seems to signify this.
Phyle, UK

Having attained "independence" from the Soviet Union the Georgians, like the rest of the former Soviet republics expected to enjoy the fruits of capitalism all these years, only to realise what it means for the common man in a capitalist system to just exist! The new leadership in Georgia can not and will not solve their problems if they have to rule by the laws of capitalism! Of course a few will become rich and thrive!
Srinivasan Toft, Humlebæk, Denmark

Yes, yes, it will make difference.
Malvina, Ukraine

Yes, yes, it will make difference. I love Georgia, this beautiful country! God bless Georgia!!!
Malvina, Ukraine

I hope and I'm sure it will be beginning of new life for all of us. We deserve to have intelligent president(not like previous one), who leads our country to the success.....
Tea Letodiani, Tbilisi

The newly elected president will need a bona fide popular mandate in order to carry out promised reforms. In this regard, presidential elections are crucial. Most Georgians are hopeful that Saakashvili and his colleagues will deliver on their promises.
Irakly Chkhenkely, Washington, DC

Anything is better than the government they had in the past
Omar Kutsiya, Toronto, Canada

Anything is better than the government they had in the past and I hope this election will bring positive results. I am from Georgia myself and have lived in Canada for 9 years. I would love to see the integrity of the Georgian government restored. The people deserve better.
Omar Kutsiya, Toronto, Canada

To make a real difference to the Georgian people, Saakashvili must tackle official corruption, rebuild relations with Russia and make peace in Abkhazia and Ossetia.
Andrew Smith, Epsom, UK

Whoever wins the election will not bring immediate change or make instantaneous difference in Georgia. But, the results will be better than the alternative chaos or anarchy that existed prior to the resignation of former President Eduard Shevardnadze, along with the current tension.
Igonikon Jack, USA

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