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Georgia's Political Landscape in 2024: Elections, Power Dynamics, and International Influence

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, January 29, 2024
With the beginning of 2024, politicians and experts are discussing what will be the main event of the year, and they are unanimous on this issue - it will be the parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn. However, there is no consensus on how these elections will end. They also agree that the political process in Georgia will depend a lot on the developments in the world and, first of all, on the course of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The elections of the Parliament of Georgia will be held on October 26, 2024. In accordance with the law, 13 parties with representation in the parliament already have the right to participate in the elections, and the rest of the parties must apply to the Central Election Commission by July 15 and submit a list of 25,000 supporters by August 1. It is also clear that in the conditions of the 5% threshold, the opposition parties should try to unite. Part of the opposition is thinking about unification, others are trying their luck independently. In this regard, we will see the final decisions already in the spring, which will highlight the political entities in the election marathon.

Predictions regarding the results of the upcoming elections are diametrically different. The Georgian Dream leaders and pro-government experts unanimously declare that the opposition is unprecedentedly weak and the current ruling party will not only win again, but will be represented by a constitutional majority in the next parliament.

2023 ended with an internal political surprise - on December 30, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who had 'finally left' politics, returned for the third time. A special position - honorary chairmanship was introduced for him in the Georgian Dream. However, he will have more power than the official chairman - he will be able to select a candidate for the country's prime minister.

To this day, different versions continue to be expressed as to why Ivanishvili appeared openly in politics again. His appearance in politics did not change anything for the opposition, they already claimed that the government of the Georgian Dream was managed by Ivanishvili, but a lot of things are changing for the Georgian Dream.

It is expected that Ivanishvili will introduce changes in the 'government design' during the election, removing some of the 'familiar faces' who either the people or personally Ivanishvili is tired of. It is already clear that the election campaign will be extremely intense and related to the actions of violent groups. If the Georgian Dream tries to record another victory, the opposition will protest the results of the elections, and the situation created after the 2020 elections, when all opposition parties refused to enter the parliament, may be repeated.

At that time, Western friends, and first of all Charles Michel, did everything to bring opposition parties into the parliament. According to them, the Georgian Dream and the opposition should have worked constructively in the parliament, but such work did not really work out, and the Georgian Dream strengthened its positions.

In 2024, the positions of the West will be different and stricter assessments will be given to possible violations during the election campaign.

Another likely important event of 2024 is the start of accession negotiations with the European Union, but for this it is necessary to fulfil the 9 reservations given at the time of receiving the candidate status.

After the 2024 parliamentary elections, according to the constitution, one more event should take place. The electoral college of 300 people (150 parliamentarians and 150 self-government representatives) should elect the new president of the country.

Until now, the president was elected by the people. The new rule is not acceptable to everyone. Gakharia's party 'For Georgia' has already come up with an initiative to change the way of electing the president, not the electoral college, but the people to elect the president again. However, this issue will become a matter of real discussion only if the opposition coalition wins the elections.

The opposition believes that the Georgian Dream will not actually do anything to fulfil these reservations, for example in the direction of de-oligarchization, and it will be possible to take real steps to fulfil the reservations of the European Union, if the pro-Western opposition coalition comes to the head of the government in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The development of events in Georgia, as already mentioned, will depend a lot on the events developed in the world. No one doubts that Putin will win again in the presidential elections in Russia in March 2024 and will continue the same aggressive policy that he has pursued so far.

It is much more difficult to predict the results of the European Parliament elections and the results of the US presidential elections. If Ukraine does not receive proper assistance from the European Union and the United States, if Trump wins there, it will bring catastrophic consequences for Russia's neighbouring countries.

Regarding Georgia, the following can be said: Ukraine's failure in the war with Russia will activate pro-Russian forces in Georgia, and the Georgian Dream will even more actively look towards Moscow. Ukraine's victories will reduce Russia's aggressive capabilities and Georgian authorities will be more attentive to the West.