Riding horses north of Tbilisi, September 2009.
David Mdzinarishvili / REUTERS

When Georgians go to the polls for parliamentary elections on October 8, they will have the luxury of choosing between candidates and parties that represent a real array of ideologies and visions: liberals, conservatives, Westernizers, Russia accommodationists, free traders, economic protectionists, and just about everything in between. For regional watchers, this is no small thing; Georgian politics have long been bruising and personality-driven, which makes the relative normalcy of this year’s multiparty contest all the more striking. There are still risks; Georgian democratic culture is still in its infancy and some rogue elements are potentially keen to stoke unrest, but

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