Domestic political crisis in Georgia: Reasons and possible developments

10 m.   |  2019-12-17

During the recent weeks, domestic political life and political developments in Georgia intensified. All this was expected and we should emphasize a few main points.

First all these is done on the background, when there is a certain decline in Georgia’s economy and the Georgian national currency has depreciated over  the last 2 years and the country is in quite a difficult economic situation. However, on the background of the same situation, the amount of investments is still provided at $1 billion, but finally the ordinary citizens notice some problems and all these has led to the rising of dissatisfaction over the last two years and the ruling team’s ranking is falling in parallel. The recent sociological surveys also show all that and it is fixed, that the ruling Georgian dream enjoys of about 20-25% public support and the number of dissatisfied or non-oriented people reaches up to 30-35%.

All this, alongside with other processes, because of which this stage began since November 14, when the parliament had to vote on constitutional reforms, which envisaged the country’s transition to a proportional electoral system. It failed by the majoritarian deputies of the ruling team and the deputies of the ruling team, who had always been talking about seeing problems in this transition. All this resulted to the activation of the opposition, opposition parliamentary party groups, political forces outside parliament joined and went out into the streets to voice their dissatisfaction to the authorities. Regular protests are taking place during these weeks: there were 2 large-scale protests and two attempts by the opposition to limit the work of the legislative body through picketing, during which the police used force.

At this moment, perhaps within the law but finally the opposition is dissatisfied with both the government and some of the government’s steps and today we should state 2 approaches: the authorities, on the one hand, state that as the legislative reforms package failed, there is no opportunity to continue on the path of reforms, and the next year elections of October 22, 2020 should be held through a mixed system with a 3% threshold. Generally, it is talked about the need for dialogue, they should sit and talk to the opposition, however, their decision is final. Another side, that is the opposition, is now talking about another consensus model, by promoting the so called German model with some Georgian elements. As it is fixed in the Constitution of Georgia, that the number of the Parliament should be 150 and all these is distributed between 77 majoritarian and 77 proportional MPs, these fixed numbers shouldn’t be changed, which differs from the classic German model. There are no fixed numbers and by adapting to the Georgian reality and the constitution they promote the following thesis, that if it failed to conduct constitutional reforms for some reason, however, they blame the authorities for failing that legislative package, but as a consensual approach they suggest to accept this German adapted model with the majority of 76 votes in the Parliament. It will give an opportunity to hold more democratic elections during the mixed system in 2020.

What does that model envisage? First of all, as the majoritarian component is preserved in that electoral package is the following, if just making a comparison you can probably understand what is expected from the Georgian elections: if we talk about the numbers of the previous elections in 2016, the “Georgian Dream” party received 115 votes in the last elections by a constitutional majority, including 71 of the majoritarian contests and others by a proportional. If this model worked, they would previously receive 72 votes, as the priority is given to the proportional element. If the party wins in majoritarian areas, it receives those seats and is deprived of the opportunity by getting fewer votes from the proportional rather than the mixed system envisaged. According to the opposition, all these is more democratic and will give an opportunity to make parliament more diverse and not allow any political force to get a constitutional majority and they have to go to a consensus and form a coalition government.

Therefore, in these case there are two different approaches and being dissatisfied the opposition is also trying to take the protest out of the capital city Tbilisi and to mobilize their supporters there as well. And there have already been a few stages of negotiations and talking about what is expected, probably they will go on the choice of this model the “Georgian Dream” as a final rescue, and there has to be a changed situation, a force majeure situation, when the wave of protest will increase and tens of thousands people go out into the streets. And in today’s reality if everything goes on with this tendency that exists today, and if the government’s approach does not change, and on behalf of the Secretary General of the party Kakha Kaladze they have already told the leaders of other parties, that their approach is final but also left a place for negotiations with the opposition.

There are two scenarios for that. According to the first, the situation will not change and will continue, and the wave of protests will fade here with this tendency and with this scenario. They will start preparing for the upcoming elections since the New Year. It will be hot in Georgia’s domestic politics and the upcoming elections will be held via mixed system, with a 3% threshold.

The second scenario is that some force majeure situation occurs, disproportionate use of force by the police and other factors can work, which will increase the wave of protests and the opposition will be able to force the authorities both through mediation of international partners or through the background of internal developments will be able to make the authorities yield and use this alternative model for the upcoming elections. In this case if all this works, we should also expect that as a result of the upcoming elections a coalition government will be formed in Georgia. Even if the “Georgian Dream”, during these years all the authorities received about 90-100% of the MP votes in the majoritarian areas, if they can maximally provide mandates from the districts, they will probably need perhaps a small but a faction, with which they will be able to form a ruling majority and establish a government.