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TBILISI, October 1 (Itar-Tass) — On MOnday, Georgia holds regular parliamentary elections which, in the opinion of the authorities and the opposition, are of decisive importance for a further development of the country.
A number of politicians and experts believe that in the event of opposition triumph, the elections may signify the start of process of a peaceful change-over of government after nine years of the reign of the Mikhail Saakashvili regime. Should the ruling party win, the opposition's desire to govern the country would be pushed farther away for four years.
The citizens of Georgia are to elect 150 deputies to parliament, with 77 of them on party lists, and 73 in majority constituencies. The seats in parliament are being contested by members of 16 electoral entities -- 14 parties and two electoral blocs. In order to gain a seat in parliament on party lists, they must poll not less than five percent of the vote. Elections will be recognized as valid irrespective of voter tunout.
The main favourites in the polls are the ruling party United National Movement and the foremost oppositional coalition "Georgian Dream", of which billionaire Bidzin Ivanishhvili is the founder and leader. Expert opinion is that several other parties also stand the chance to poll five or more percent of the vote essential for getting into parliament.
The unprecedented interest in the elections and a desire to prevent falsifications are evidenced by a record-high number of local observers -- over 61,000 who represent more than 50 non-governmental and public organizations.
Monitoring of the polling will be also conducted by more than 1,500 foreign observrs from 61 organizations. The largest observer missions will be present from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions -- 300 people, and the and the OSCE Parliliamentary Assembly -- 54. The polls will be also monitored by representatives of the European Union, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe, GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, as well as by observers from tens of countries. There will be no monitors from the Russian Federation.