2016 Parliamentary Elections: The Battle for Georgian Democracy

Last week, Members of the Georgian Dream parliamentary faction met with the former and current Prime Ministers in Saguramo, near Mtskheta.

As reported, former Prime Ministers Bidzina Ivanishvili and Irakli Garibashvili, as well as the newly appointed PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili, were present at the meeting.

The meeting was apparently initiated by the Georgian Dream faction to celebrate Old New Year.

Interestingly, as MP Soso Jachvliani informed media following the assembly in Saguramo, the celebration was of a political nature and potential MP candidates were there to be selected. He, who had no political experience before GD’s victory in the 2012 elections, claimed that the tables at the assembly were divided in accordance with political preferences to flirt with Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Likewise, Ivanishvili, who has been oft accused of shadow governance of the country, appears to be actively involved in the process of forming the new electoral team. As yet, it is unclear whether he will officially declare his engagement in this process.

Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili from the Republican Party was absent from the meeting- surprisingly so as his party, which is considered the mostly pro-European within the coalition, has been a deviant force in the Georgian Dream team.

The Republicans, who have played a non-trivial role in the GD circle to save Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic course, are said to be planning to participate in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections of October 2016. At this moment, the party has not made it clear whether they will play an independent game or create a pro-western coalition to secure sufficient places in the legislative organ.

On the question of what type of configuration of Georgian Dream could be expected for the elections, First Vice-Speaker Manana Kobakhidze responded, “At present, no changes are planned in the coalition, but it is difficult to rule out anything – expansion of the coalition or vice versa. No decision has been made nor are discussions underway.”

“We are working the same way as we have been since the 2012 elections, with the exception that the Free Democrats have left us,” the Vice Speaker stated.

Zviad Kvachantiradze, a parliamentary majority leader, says the Green Party and Social Democrats may join the Georgian Dream coalition, adding that, although leaders of these parties, Giorgi Gachechiladze and Gia Zhorzholiani, were elected MPs from the Georgian Dream election list, their parties are not affiliated with the coalition.

Kvachantiradze declared that, according to amendments to the Election Code, if a political party has a representative in the Parliament, it can take part in the elections without collecting necessary signatories. Relatively, the Green Party and Social Democrats have a chance to take part in the elections. “I think it is more logical if they join our coalition as entities,” Kvachantiradze said.

Meanwhile, the United National Movement, the main opposition party in the country, was expected to make some major rearrangements after their failure in 2012, though the team has yet to announce that expected rebrand.

In addition, although the Georgian Dream rating is steadily plummeting, UNM has gained no additional support from the so-called “Middlists”, a wavering majority in whose hands may lie the fate of the up-coming elections.

At the same time, new players- the Pine Cone party -who left the UNM several months ago, and are led by Georgian opera singer Paata Burchuladze, have appeared on the scene having announced their intention to play a role in the next elections and Georgia’s political life.

Last but not least, the Free Democrats, who were part of the Georgian Dream victory in the 2012 elections and left the coalition back in November 2014, plan to secure a large proportion of the overall 150 seats in Parliament.

How will the political processes play out in Georgia? Could the elections decide the fate of Georgian Democracy?

GEORGIA TODAY will provide you with exclusive interviews and other first-hand information around the topic.

Zviad Adzinbaia

21 January 2016 21:57