Georgia: Post-Election Panorama
By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Friday, November 6After the October 31st parliamentary elections, Georgia found itself in a deep political crisis. The government and the opposition have the opposite view of the elections. According to the Georgian Dream, the elections were held under democratic standards and he rightfully won the third term.
For its part, the opposition was unanimous in its assessment - it considered the elections to be rigged, refused to enter parliament, and demanded a rerun of the parliamentary elections, along with the punishment of the current head of the election administration.
A difficult situation was created before the October 31st elections. "Georgian Dream" was talking about its inevitable convincing victory. The party's leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who rarely appeared in public during a pandemic, said at the ruling party's last pre-election event that ‘according to their polls,’ they would get about 60 percent of the vote.
The opposition had the opposite opinion about the results of the upcoming elections. The opposition, citing other opinion polls, argued that a majority of citizens, about 60%, wanted a change of government in the country. Based on the party ratings of the same survey, it was estimated that the Georgian Dream would win about 40% of the votes, with the majority of seats in parliament in the hands of opposition parties.
They were also discussing whether any of the opposition parties in the parliament would make a deal with the Georgian Dream. In their opinion, it was inevitable that the Georgian Dream would join the opposition and form a coalition government by the opposition parties.
Part of the opposition did not like Mikheil Saakashvili, the candidate of the Prime Minister of the strongest opposition party National Movement, but the third president of Georgia in Ukraine said that he wasn’t going to take any position in the government after the elections.
The results of the elections announced by the CEC showed a convincing victory of the Georgian Dream: in the proportional elections, the Dream received 48.15% of the vote (926,959 votes), the National Movement - 27.14% (522,463 votes). 7 more parties announced to overcome the 1% threshold - European Georgia - 3.78% (72,752 votes), Lelo for Georgia - 3.15% (60,691 votes), Strategy Builder - 3.15% (60,592 Vote), Alliance of Patriots - 3.14% (60,493 votes), Girchi - 2.89% (55,600 votes), Citizens of Elisashvili ”- 1.33% (25,534 votes), Labor Party - 1% (19,281 votes). Initially, Nino Burjanadze's United Georgia - Democratic Movement entered the parliament, but then found itself beyond the threshold - 0.85% (16,328 votes). According to these results, the Georgian Dream won 61 seats in the proportional system in parliament, but in the majoritarian elections, it seems that all 30 seats will be in the hands of the ruling party.
91 seats in the 150-seat parliament is a comfortable majority for the Georgian Dream, which is ready to run for a third term. The country is facing more problems today than it was in 2012 when Bidzina Ivanishvili came to power with his ‘dream’.
But something unexpected for the Georgian Dream happened- the opposition unanimously refused to acknowledge the election results, considering it to be falsified. Opposition candidates have refused to run in the second round of majoritarian elections, with no opposition parties planning to enter parliament, and have signed a joint document. The protest included not only the pro-Western opposition, which government officials call ‘unconstructive’, ‘radical’ opposition but also the so-called openly pro-Russian opposition, which is considered ‘satellites of the Georgian Dream.’
The opposition also unanimously demands the annulment of the election results, the punishment of the head of the Central Election Commission Tamar Zhvania for rigging the elections, and the re-election of the new election administration. Georgian Dream obviously does not want to hear this request and according to them, Zhvania not only deserves to be punished but also deserves a reward for so many unfounded accusations.
Both the government and the opposition use the assessments of international observers, and in these assessments, both parties read useful parts for themselves - the government actively uses the phrases such as ‘competitive elections’ and ‘legitimacy of the elections’, while the opposition focuses on the violations.
Besides, opposition parties have made numerous allegations of manipulation at polling stations public, and local NGOs have also assessed the situation as grave.
The government found itself in a tricky situation - it has to hold the second round of majoritarian elections alone in 16 constituencies, show a complete victory, and then convene the parliament of the 10th convocation by December 20th. The meeting will, of course, be under the existing law, but consisting only of representatives of the ruling party.
Therefore, one of the main tasks of the Georgian Dream for the rest of the period will be, on the one hand, to convince the opposition MPs who passed the second round to participate in the elections and, on the other hand, to negotiate behind the scenes with some parties, promising that CEC will increase their representation. In return, these parties must agree to enter parliament.
After the elections, the opposition is permanently holding protest rallies and is organizing a large protest rally on November 8th in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi. Against this background, the local opposition boycotted the results of the Adjara Supreme Council elections and protests are taking place in Batumi as well. The further course of events will depend on the scale and duration of the protests.
(Translated from Georgian by Mariam Mchedlidze)