TBILISI, October 26 (Itar-Tass) - For Georgia’s presidential election due October 27 to be declared valid the number of voters who come to the polls will not matter. As Central Election Commission officials told Itar-Tass on Friday, this rule was effective in the previous election in January 2008 and it still remains in force.
CEC officials explained that the candidate who collected more than half of the ballots cast would be declared the winner.
The CEC will be obliged to declare the final returns no later than twenty days after the voting, by November 16.
If none of the candidates collects a more than 50-percent majority, a runoff will be held within two weeks after the CEC has declared the results of the first round. In the runoff either of the two candidates is to receive a plurality.
According to the CEC Georgia has 3,537,719 eligible voters.
The CEC originally registered 23 candidates for the presidency. One withdrew from the race a while later. In the meantime, the ballot papers still carry 23 names, as it was too late to remove the dropout candidate.
Most experts believe the main contenders for the presidency are the candidate from Georgia’s ruling coalition Georgian Dream, Georgy Margvelashvili, former parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze, who represents the socio-political forum National Assembly of Georgia, and David Bakradze, of Georgia’s previous ruling party United National Movement.
Some observers also point to the leader of the Labor Party, Shalva Natelashvili, who is in opposition to President Mikhail Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Natelashvili has his own stable electorate, but his chances of success in the presidential race are slim.