Early presidential elections began in Georgia on 5 January at 08:00 a.m. in local time.
Nearly 3447 polling stations were opened in the Country, including 40 stations abroad. The elections will be observed by more than 800 international observers. According to the assessments of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, the elections will be attended by 3.4mln electors. Part of bullets has been published in Russian, Armenian and Azeri in order to enable national minorities who do not know State language to vote.
The post of President is being claimed by Mikhail Saakashvili, retired State Head, Levan Gachechiladze, a candidate from the National Council of Opposition, Shalva Natelashvili, Head of Labor Party, David Gamkrelidze, leader of opposition New Rights Party, Irina Sarishvili, leader of Hope Party, Georgi Maisashvili, former image-maker of Saakashvili and current head of Party of Future, and entrepreneur Badri Patarkatsishvili.
According to the Electoral Code of Georgia, irrespective of the participation of the electors, the elections will be considered valid. The candidate who will collect 50% plus one vote of elector will be considered the winner of the elections. If no candidate can acquire votes necessary for victory, the second turn of elections will be appointed which will take place in two weeks. In the second turn, the elections will be attended by two candidates who acquired best results in the first turn. The candidate who gains at least 20% of the votes will be considered elected.
In addition to the elections, the voters in Georgia should pass through plebiscite and answer two questions. The first question deals with Georgia's plans to joint NATO. The second question regards the date of conducting parliamentary elections - in spring or autumn 2008.
Elections do not take place in self-declared republics of Abkhazia and South Osetia. After closing of the polling stations at 20:00 p.m., the results of exit polls will be announced. The Central Election Commission of Georgia plans to announce the first official date on 6 January, Lenta reports.