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Election - 08 October 2016

In early 2016 two of the five parties in Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition engaged in an acrimonious public dispute, fueling speculation that the coalition could collapse ahead of the parliamentary elections due in October 2016. The dispute pitted the Republican Party, arguably the most unequivocally pro-Western coalition member, and the Union of Industrialists, whose leader, brewery magnate Gogi Topadze, is notorious for his anti-Western public statements tinged with nostalgia for the Soviet era and what the Republicans consider unacceptable veneration of Josef Stalin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sixty-four political parties requested registration with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to run in the 2016 parliamentary elections. Competing parties include the current ruling Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, as well as the former ruling and now main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM). Out of 64, the CEC rejected, annulled or cancelled registration of 28 parties. Of 36 registered parties, nearly half formed six election blocs, while 19 parties will run individually.

The six registered election alliances consist of:

  1. UNM, the largest opposition party, which also includes the little-known, small party European Georgia;
  2. State for People bloc (Paata Burchuladze), led by opera singer Paata Burchuladzes State for People party, which also includes New Georgia (led by Member of Parliament [MP] Giorgi Vashadze) and the New Rights Party (led by former MP Mamuka Katsitadze);
  3. Democratic Movement (Nino Burjanadze), formed by former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadzes United Democratic Movement party with the little-known party Democratic Movement-United Georgia;
  4. Alliance of Patriots of Georgia-United Opposition (Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi-Irma Inashvili), an election bloc consisting of six parties, including Alliance of Patriots with Free Georgia, Traditionalists, Freedom Party, New Christian-Democrats, and the Political Movement of Law Enforcement and Armed Forces Veterans and Patriots;
  5. Our People-Peoples Party, an election bloc formed by two small, lesser-known parties; and
  6. Industrialists-Our Homeland, an election bloc formed by two parties, of which the Industrialists were a former member of the Georgian Dream coalition.

Therefore, there are 19 political subjects running independently:

  1. Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), the ruling party founded by billionaire former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili;
  2. Free Democrats, founded and led by former Defense Minister Irakli Alasania;
  3. Labor Party, led by its founder and chair Shalva Natelashvili;
  4. Republican Party, led by Speaker of the outgoing Parliament Davit Usupashvili;
  5. National Forum, led by former diplomat Kakha Shartava;
  6. For United Georgia, led by a former member of the GDDG, MP Tamaz Mechiauri, who quit GDDG in late May after criticizing the governments declared policy of NATO integration;
  7. Peoples Authority, one of the leaders of the party is Levan Mamaladze, who lives in Russia and was an influential governor of the Kvemo Kartli region. He fled to Russia after the 2003 Rose Revolution;
  8. For Georgias Peace, led by former Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze;
  9. The Way of Zviad-In the Name of the Lord, led by 2013 presidential candidate Mikheil-Gela Saluashvili;
  10. Georgia;
  11. Communist Party of Georgia-Stalinists;
  12. Unified Communist Party of Georgia;
  13. Labor Socialist Party;
  14. Merab Kostava Society;
  15. Georgian Idea;
  16. Left wing Alliance, formed by former members of the Labor Party;
  17. Our Georgia;
  18. Georgian Assembly (Kartuli Dasi); and
  19. Progressive-Democratic Movement.

Additionally, out of 816 majoritarian candidates running in 73 majoritarian districts, 53 are nominated by initiative groups (independent) while 763 are nominated by election subjects.

On 08 October 2016, Georgians voted for Representatives to the 150-member Parliament of Georgia (Sakartvelos Parlamenti). Under the mixed parallel electoral system, 76 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system to serve four-year terms. The remaining 73 members are elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies to serve four-year terms. Given the currrent political situation in Georgia and the primary role Parliament plays in the countrys political system, the parliamentary elections are significant for several reasons. The last parliamentary elections held in 2012 were heralded as the countrys first peaceful transfer of power since Georgia gained independence in 1992. Among the top issues related to the political situation in advance of the 2016 polls are questions over Georgias political orientation and its commitment to European structures and democratic principles, given fears of influence on the election and political process by outside actors.

As was announced at the end of March 2016, the member parties of the former Georgian Dream [GD] coalition contested the election independently, in contrast to the unified bloc they formed ahead of the previous parliamentary elections. The ruling Georgian Dream coalition was challenged by the United National Movement, and a new political party, the Free Democrats, formed by former members of the Georgian Dream coalition. A truly competitive multiparty election will continue to distinguish Georgias democracy from its regional neighbors.

The exit poll sponsored by independent TV channel Rustav-2 showed 39.9 percent for the ruling party, compared with 32.7 percent for the opposition United National Movement, founded by former President Mikheil Saakashvili. The pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots also cleared the 5 percent threshold needed to secure a place in the 150-seat parliament, according to the same exit polls. Because of Georgia's complex election rules, final results of the parliamentary voting may not be confirmed for weeks, and possibly as late as the end of November.

The pro-European Georgian Dream party secured 48 of the 50 seats up for grabs in the second round of voting, the Central Election Commission said 31 October 2016. "Georgian Dream won in all but two of 50 single-mandate constituencies," commission spokeswoman Ketevan Dangadze told AFP. Georgian Dream took 67 of the parliament's 150 seats in the first round on October 8. Runoffs were held for 50 other seats in which no candidate claimed a majority. The second-round results gave Georgian Dream a super majority of 115, cementing the party's grip on power and allowing it to form a new Cabinet and pass constitutional amendments. The opposition United National Movement (UNM) came in second with 27 seats, while the anti-Western Alliance of Patriots took six seats. Turnout was low in the runoffs, with only 37.5 percent of eligible voters participating.

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Page last modified: 31-10-2016 18:55:23 ZULU