While everyone’s attention is focused on US presidential elections and pandemic, Georgia is holding its first parliamentary elections since new electoral law was approved earlier in 2020, caused by dramatic events in June 2019. With these changes there are fewer chances for a single political party to form government. Brief story will put light on parliamentary elections of 2020.
After Sergei Gavrilov, a member of Russia’s state Duma, took the chair of an inter-parliamentary session between lawmakers last year. It angered the opposition, which sees the current Georgian government as overly friendly to Russian interests. At this demonstration, opposition parties demanded the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs and the head of the State Security Service of Georgia. As midnight approached, protesters clashed with riot police. As the result several hundred have been injured, the chairman of parliament resigned, but demonstration demanded the new electoral.
Announced plans to change the electoral system to full party-list proportional representation without an electoral threshold failed to be passed as only 101 of the 150 MPs voted in favour, fewer than the required 75% to change the electoral law despite being supported by opposition. After several rounds of negotiations the new electoral law stipulates that 120 deputies will be elected by proportional representation, while another 30 will be elected from single-member constituencies.
Pre-electoral period was very polarized, as the Georgian Dream used administrative resources involving public officials and civil servants in agitation in favor of the ruling party, including agitation through the social network during the business hours. Representatives in administrative units were often not politically neutral and acted as party activists and representatives of the ruling party. The facts of violence mainly directed against the representatives of the opposition parties. Violent events where local opposition leaders, journalists, and observers were brutally beaten by an unknown group affiliated with the ruling party, took place in Marneuli municipality months before the elections.
Major opposition parties agreed to have single candidates for thirty districts to be elected as single-members. As example there is Didube-Chugureti district in Tbilisi, political parties agreed on next, major opposition parties will support a single candidate in case of given example Zurab Girchi Japaridze who represent libertalian party “Girchi”. Such division happened throughout the entire country. Parties of that agreement were UNM , European Georgia, Labour party of Georgia, Girchi and others. Fair to say, agreement was between totally different political parties, from socialists to libertarians.
Political parties have spent up to 22 million GEL for campaign proposes in the period from September to October,and 46 percent out of spent money belonged to the ruling party. Political corruption is not new for Georgia and it looks like companies affiliated with the ruling party won governmental tenders worth 47 million GEL in 2020 year, in return they donated 1,3 million GEL in favour of Georgian Dream before the first of October 2020 (State audit ). Fair to mention that during the campaign there were political parties with very limited resources like “Girchi”, they moved the entire campaign to social networks using Facebook, instagram and youtube, which actually worked for Girchi. Campaign period was filled with threats and violence against the main opposition party which is the United National Movement (UNM). Several facts of encroachment on vehicles and other party property and vandalism.
Before and during the elections the ruling party has mobilised criminals and people affiliated with illegal activities, they have been used for threatening potential oppositional voters using different ways. Mindia Gabadze is one of the several journalists assaulted during the election day. Several observers from local organisations were sent out from the polling stations so they were not able to perform their duties. When all polling stations were closed, counting had begun, and this is the time when major falsification happened. Each polling station had to publish the final protocol, with each party and candidate votes. Sending corrected protocols violating electoral law (prohibits to amend any changes in protocol after it has been signed by all members of the local election committee). Chairwoman of the Central Election Commission has shared the intermediate results at a press conference. Gorgian Dream gained 48 percent (61 seats) from the proportional elected seats and 14 seats from single-member, which totally gives them 75 seats which is more than enough to create a government by one political party (CEC results: https://results.cec.gov.ge/#/en-us/election_43/dashboard). There will be a second round of elections for the 16 districts where no single-member got 50+1. After the elections according to the local organization there are up to 146 thousand void ballouts, and the vast majority of those ballots were opposition votes. (Civil platform 2020 http://cp2020.ge/en/kuprava/)
Massive falsification brought opposition together to boycott the results. At this very moment opposition is going to use paragraph 38 of the Constitution of Georgia, which means next, that the first parliament assembly is going to vote on parliament legitimacy and a quorum of 100 seats, without opposition quorum will fail, which will cause early elections.