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How Well Will Minor Parties Do at Elections?

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Today, in Georgian politics, it is considered that there are four opposition political unions, which have the opportunity to overcome the 5% electoral threshold. The newest such union - 'Ahali' of Nika Melia and Nika Gvaramia was created on March 11. After that, it became especially relevant to discuss what path will be taken by the remaining small opposition parties, which clearly have no chance of overcoming the 5% threshold in the next elections.

The Georgian Dream, which is in power, has already launched an active election campaign. First of all, he has created such electoral rules that are considered favourable for him. One such condition is to maintain the 5% threshold, despite earlier promises that this threshold would be reduced to 2%. It should be noted that the Parliament has adopted this constitutional amendment in the first reading.

By maintaining a high electoral threshold, the Georgian Dream made the right calculation for itself. The 5% threshold creates serious problems for the opposition, which has always had difficulty uniting before the elections. Today, except for the 5% threshold, it is forbidden to create pre-election blocs. Election participants must have a single electoral list.

In such conditions, at least four opposition forces were identified, which, according to experts, will be able to overcome the 5% barrier. These are the National Movement, Gakharia's For Georgia, Lelo and Gvaramia-Melia political party Ahali. But there are still many opposition political forces that are preparing for elections and intend to participate in the elections independently. The Labor Party, Elisashvili's Citizens, European Georgia, Girchi - more freedom and others are considered smaller forces. At the election marathon, many political forces, both Western oriented and openly pro-Russian, will appear.

If the votes received by them turn out to be less than 5%, and it can be said in advance that this will be the case, they will be 'lost', or rather, they will be distributed among the political forces in the parliament, and primarily in favour of the Georgian Dream. No one doubts that the political force in power today will take the first place by the number of votes received. Why do small parties refuse to unite with 'big' parties? In addition to the existence of ideological and personal conflicts, there is another factor in today's Georgian legislation, which seems like a peculiarly easy-to-achieve bonus.

In particular, the party that collects 1% of the total votes in the elections will not be able to enter the parliament, but will receive funding from the state - 300 thousand GEL annually. This allows small parties to exist and creates a safe multi-party, 'pluralistic' background for the government.

It is assumed that with the creation of Melia and Gvaramia's political party, the regroupings on the opposition wing have not ended yet. Behind-the-scenes negotiations between certain political forces continue, and the final pre-election picture is expected to be formed by the end of April. A number of experts believe that some opposition political forces, if they are convinced that they cannot overcome the 5% barrier on their own, will go to pre-election unification.

The main pre-election messages of the Georgian Dream are simple:

1. The Georgian Dream will not just win, but will easily gain a constitutional majority in the next parliament.

2. The opposition (political forces of western orientation) is very weak and acts against the interests of the country, for example they did not want Georgia to receive the status of a candidate for the European Union and they want to involve Georgia in the war.

3. In fact, the opposition is not represented by several political forces, but by one political force, the National Movement, which did not disintegrate, but spread out and thus they are trying to mislead the voters.

Whether the leaders of the Georgian Dream and the propaganda channels intensively repeat these pre-election messages, but it is another matter how effective such propaganda will turn out to be.

According to experts, the statements of the Georgian Dream about obtaining 60% support and constitutional majority are their desired reality, but unattainable. The real rating of today's ruling political force is considered to be somewhere between 30-35%, which is by no means a guarantee of victory and leads to a particularly aggressive attitude when commenting on the appearance of opposition political forces and their unions.

The main opposition force is considered to be the National Movement, which after the loss of power in 2012, many former faces and political groups left behind. The last loss was the departure of the former leader Nika Melia and his supporters from the party and the formation of a separate political force.

Nevertheless, they believe that the National Movement will not only surpass 5% even with its current composition, but its electoral result will be much more impressive.

Melia and Gvaramia's Ahali should be considered the closest to the National Movement. Its leaders used to be associated with the National Movement and even today they follow the part of the supporters of the National Movement. It will be difficult for them to get the votes of those who are 'undecided', who neither want the National Movement nor the Georgian Dream. Lelo is considered a good option for such a voter, how successful it will be, is another matter, as for Gakharia, for 'Georgia' it will already take part of the Georgian Dream voter and will damage the current ruling party.

But there are many 1-2% parties that will take significant votes in total, leaving only the Georgian Dream to win. Will these parties be able to create a new opposition union, or will they stick to one of the existing ones? We will know the answer to this in the near future.