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21 May, 2008 05:42

Georgians vote in parliamentary election

Georgians are heading to the polls to elect a new parliament. Voters have 12 choices on the ballot, including the ruling United National Movement and eleven opposition organisations. In all, eight parties and three electoral blocs are represented.

The competing political organisations have to get over a 5 per cent threshold to make it to the parliament.

In total, 150 members of parliament will be elected – 75 on party tickets, and 75 single mandate deputies.

Former President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze believes the new parliament will feature many opposition parties.

“As compared to the previous parliaments, this parliament will have a big flow of opposition parties which will take many more seats than before. And this will be very important, if not decisive,” he said after casting his vote.

About 3,500 polling stations are open in Georgia from 0800 to 2000 local time (0400 to 1600 GMT).

Earlier there was a fight at a polling station in eastern Georgia, according to the country’s Election Commission. They say everything is now under control and the vote is proceeding as normal.

10,000 local observers, as well as a thousand international observers are monitoring the election – including 350 observers from the OSCE and about 70 from CIS countries.

Observers haven’t found any serious violations so far. Under Georgian law, official results should be published within 18 days after the vote.

The vote will be considered valid regardless of the turnout.

The Georgian parliament is elected for four years.