Georgia: Street Protests or One-Party Parliament?

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

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The parliamentary elections took place on October 31 with 9 parties surpassing the threshold of 1%. However, 8 of these 9 parties are boycotting the work of the parliament. With the second round of the elections ahead, a series of protests took place in several cities of the country. Electoral commissions and courts have received a significant number of claims from opposition parties and observers of non-governmental organizations.

Domestic Policy 

Only one of nine parliamentary parties accepts the election results 

According to the proportional system, the current ruling party “Georgian Dream” got the number of mandates equivalent to 48,23% of the total votes, with winning 13 out of 30 single-member constituencies. 

Ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili’s “United National Movement” took the second place getting 27,17% of votes. In the first round they did not manage to win any single-member constituencies; however, their candidates will dominate in the second round compared to other opposition parties. The remaining 6 parties were not able to get even 3%, but overall strengthened the opposition front. Only one out of 8 parties, “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” is openly against NATO, the remaining 7 parties are clearly pro-Western. 

According to recent reports, “Georgian Dream” has already received 74 seats in 150-mandate parliament.Yet this is not sufficient as 76 mandates are required to form the government. Nevertheless, it is enough for this party to win three out of seventeen single-member constituencies in the second round of the elections. It is worth noting that the ruling party could not win any out of 8 single-member constituencies in Tbilisi. Therefore, Tbilisi is still “off-balance”.  

The opposition and independent observers will appeal against the district electoral commissions as they believe the election protocols contain some inaccuracies. The political opposition directly attacks election administration and the authorities stating that the elections were falsified. OSCE/ODIHR international observers, the European Parliament and others issued a statement noting the elections were competitive, and fundamental human rights were observed. However, they mentioned some drawbacks as well. 

The current situation is rather complicated as the opposition does not give in while the authorities do not want to make any concessions. It is difficult to imagine that the “Georgian Dream” of Bidzina Ivanishvili agrees to new early elections. The opposition is trying to protect their votes and is heating up tensions calling on the people of the country to take part in street protests. If compromise is not found, the worst-case scenario involves streets protests with unpredictable development of the situation, while the best-case scenario is that partially completed one-party parliament is formed, being a serious predicament for a political crisis. 

It also needs to be taken into consideration that Covid-19 pandemic numbers are growing, which is probably the result of the increased mobility among the population due to the current political processes. The daily growth numbers already exceed 2900 infected people. 



““Georgian Dream” needs only three more mandates to form the government “




Covid-19 hits Georgian lari 

Covid-19 continues to make a negative impact on the country’s economy. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia and its preliminary evaluations, September 2020 saw a decrease of the real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 0,7 % against the same period last year.   In particular, the decrease was observed in the following sectors: transport and warehousing, food supply, art, entertainment and leisure as well as construction, professional, science and research activities, and also information and communication sectors. 

Georgia’s national currency, lari, has been losing its value again recently. According to the recent Bloomberg report US dollar trades at 3,3550 lari. In October lari lost approximately 15 tetri against the value of dollar. Official authorities link this to the escalation of the country’s political situation. The National Bank is attempting to stabilize the exchange rate of Georgian lari and from time to time sells dollars at the monetary exchange.  

The prime-minister of Georgia made a promise to the public that total lockdown is not going to be launched, however, target measures will be taken in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. 


Foreign Policy

West calls on reviewing the evidence for violations 

Ever since Georgia’s independence was restored 30 years ago, the voice of the West has always been heard in the domestic policy of the country. Even though today the West is mostly concentrating on their own problems, Georgian voters listen carefully when it comes to the opinions of Europe or America. In their joint statement on the results of the elections the EU Delegation and the US embassy to Georgia highlighted that:

“With regard to the ongoing electoral process, we encourage political parties to continue addressing allegations of electoral violations by using the legal means within the democratic processes that Georgia has built over the past 20 years.

A credible and inclusive legal process for remedying substantiated electoral violations is necessary to ensure that the will of the voters is respected, that public confidence in the electoral process is assured, and to ensure the public can accept the election results as legitimate. We stand ready to contribute as required to achieving these objectives.

Georgia needs a parliament able to play its role to address the immediate challenges of economic turmoil, a pandemic and regional tensions, as well as to enact additional reforms to improve the country’s democratic, legal and electoral processes for the future. All political sides need urgently to take responsibility for ensuring such an outcome.”



Opposition protest rally near the Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi 
Photo: Associated Press