Georgia: Opposition Unites ahead of Elections

Lasha Tughushi, Liberal Academy Tbilisi Foundation (Tbilisi, Georgia)

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Both the authorities and the opposition are mobilizing all their forces before the elections since the stakes are high. Whether the all-against-one plan will work out is not yet clear.


Domestic policy

Mobilizing before the Elections

About 30 opposition parties signed a memorandum to protect each other’s votes in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Opposition parties aim to jointly prevent ruling political force’s possible attempts to use administrative or other resources and retain power illegally.

On August 27, the third president of Georgia and the opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili first apologized to the citizens of Georgia from Ukraine and then published a video in which he announced his decision to return to Georgia. The opposition was not excited about the news. Moreover, some people took it critically because Misha made similar statements before the 2016 parliamentary elections. Many people do not believe that Saakashvili will be able to cross the border. A Georgian court passed a guilty verdict against the citizen of Ukraine Saakashvili, and upon return he will have to be imprisoned. Experts agree that the oppositionists arrival will be a serious test of the country’s security.

The ruling party Georgian Dream holds the first place in the published pre-election ratings. However, according to the two out of three polls, its rating is not enough to form the government: Edison Research – 39%; IRI – 33%; Survation – 52%.

Opposition parties are also not happy with the polls. For example, according to the IRI poll, the following three places are occupied by the United National Movement (Saakashvili’s party) – 16%; European Georgia – 5%; New Georgia – 5%. Despite a low support level, together with other minor parties, they have a chance to form a majority. A temporary amendment to the Constitution set an almost symbolic 1% threshold for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Thus, up to ten parties can get into the parliament. It is difficult to say how united the opposition will be. Left- and right-oriented, friendly or sceptical to the West deputies sitting by the same table look rather strange. So far, the all against one” opposition plan is still relevant.

According to the new version of the Constitution, Georgia is a parliamentary republic. The October elections are the last to be held under a mixed electoral system. 120 out of 150 seats in the parliament will be cast by the proportional party lists and 30 seats by the first-past-the-post voting. The law establishes an interesting “blocking principle”, which means that if a party receives less than 40% of the votes under the proportional system, then it will not be able to form the government, even if it wins in all 30 majoritarian districts.

The ruling team does not want to share power since it does not see partners. Besides, for the leader of the ruling party, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, a loss in the elections is dangerous, especially if Saakashvili wins, since personally for him, the price of losing could be prison.



“Up to ten parties can get into the parliament with an almost symbolic 1% threshold for the upcoming parliamentary elections”




The fall has slowed down


In July, the Georgian economy contracted by 5.5%. According to the optimistic statement of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Natia Turnava, the country’s economy is on the recovery path. In her opinion, month after month, the rate of economic decline is weakening, and there is a positive trend. 

“We still have a recession in July, this year cannot be positive, but the July recession of 5.5% means that the economy is falling three times slower than it was in April,” Turnava said.

At the same time, according to the international rating company Standard&Poors, the effectiveness of Georgias monetary policy is high. According to the National Bank of Georgia, S&P kept Georgia’s sovereign credit rating as BB. According to the S&P, despite a challenging external environment, Georgia maintained strong economic growth compared to other countries in the region, was able to quickly cope with volatile external circumstances, and avoided sharp and destructive real exchange rate fluctuations.


Foreign policy

For European Belarus

The President of Georgia reacted to the elections in Belarus a few days after they were held.

Georgia respects the European values ​​and is committed to democratic principles on which the development, progress, and return of our two friendly states into the European family are based on. We believe that the current process will end not harming or hindering the democratic and European future of Belarus. We distance ourselves from all the forms of violence. We believe that Belarus and its people will be able to choose their future democratically,” Salome Zurabishvili said in a statement disseminated through her official Facebook page.

Unlike Georgia, both neighbouring South Caucasian countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia, recognized the results of the elections in Belarus. Besides, separatist regimes from Abkhazia and South Ossetia “capitals” sent their congratulations on the voting results to Belarus. The elections were not recognized by the valid Western democracies. Georgia, like Ukraine, is trying to draw its borders where the democratic world is, despite the propagandist theories spreading in the country saying that  “Lukashenko will remain in power and will strike back by recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia”.


Photo: 30 opposition parties signed memorandum to protect each other’s votes.
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