TBILISI, October 27 (Itar-Tass) - As many as 1.382 million voters, or 39 percent of the eligible electorate, cast their votes at the presidential elections in Georgia by 17:00 Moscow time, or three hours before the voting in over, press secretary of the Georgian Central Election Commission Eka Azarashvili said on Sunday.
According to the Central Election Commission, as many as 3.537 people are eligible for voting in Georgia, some 48,500 Georgian citizens will take part in the elections at 52 polling stations abroad. Polling stations are open from 08:00 a.m. till 20:00 Moscow time.
In line with Georgia’s Election Code, the presidential polls may be declared valid regardless of the voter turnout. The winner will be a candidate who scores more than a half of the vote. In case none of the candidates manages to do that, runoff elections are to be held within two weeks after the Central Elections Commission announced the official results of the first round of voting.
The Central Election Commission 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. According to opinion polls, 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.
In conformity with the Georgian constitution, incumbent President Mikhail Saakashvili cannot run for a third presidential term.
After the inauguration of a Georgian president-elect the country will actually become a parliamentary republic, because a new reading of the constitution will be enacted after the legislative assembly approved it in 2010. According to the constitution the rights and powers of the president are limited, while those of parliament and the prime minister are getting broader.