European Forum

Georgia

Georgia

The election results of the October 27 presidential elections gave an outright victory to Georgian Dream’s (GD) candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili with over 62 percent of the votes. These election results mean consolidation of GD’s power, since the party is now in charge of both the presidency and the government and has a majority in parliament. The inauguration of Margvelashvili marked the entry into force of a new constitution, significantly cutting the president’s powers while increasing those of the Prime Minister. In November Irakli Garibashvili took constitutionally the most powerful office after the GD-dominated Parliament confirmed him as Prime Minister, replacing Bidzina Ivanishvili, who departed from the post voluntarily. The new constitution is seen as a shift from a presidential system to a mixed one where executive power is concentrated with PM and government, who are accountable to parliament.
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POLITICAL SITUATION

Electoral system
Georgia is a democratic republic, headed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was elected in 2013. The Parliament (the ‘Sakartvelos Parlament'i’) consists of 150 members, elected in a mixed electoral system consisting of 84 constituencies. 77 members are elected based on party lists. The remaining 73 single-mandate majoritarian constituencies are being elected directly in voting districts in a first-past-the-post-system. All members are elected to four-year terms. After the peaceful Rose Revolution of November 2003 and the installation of Mikhail Saakashvili in January 2004, the outgoing Parliament adopted on 5 February 2004 far-reaching changes to the Constitution, which increased the power of the Executive. As a result, the President has the power to dissolve the Parliament, while he or she can stay in government even when the Parliament has expressed its lack of confidence. Presidential powers were also increased in other areas, including the judiciary. Only with the constitutional amendments of 2010, the President decided that these powers were transferred back to the parliament after the presidential elections of October 2013. The new Parliament was relocated from the capital of Tbilisi to the country's second largest city of Kutaisi after the parliamentary elections of 2012.

Post Soviet years
Soon after the USSR collapse, Georgian voted for restoration of independence, and nationalist leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as President. His mandate was short as militias replaced him by former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in 1992. Corruption, crime and poverty increased during his 11 years in power forcing him to resign after the Rose Revolution led by his successor, Mikheil Saakashvili.


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ELECTIONS

Presidential elections of 2013
With all the votes counted, Georgian Dream’s candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili was the winner of the October 27 presidential election, with 62.12 percent of the votes. In the election results Margvelashvili was followed by Davit Bakradze of the United National Movement (UNM), the party of the outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, with almost 22 percent of the votes. Former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, received just over 10 percent of the votes. The three front runners were followed by Labour Party leader Shalva Natelashvili (2.88 percent) and Christian-Democratic Party leader Giorgi Targamadze (1.06 percent).

Candidate Party Votes %
Giorgi Margvelashvili Georgian Dream 62.12 %
Davit Bakradze United National Movement 21.72 %
Nino Burjanadze Democratic Movement - United Georgia 10,19 %
Shalva Natelashvili Labour Party 2.88 %
Giorgi Targamadze Christian-Democratic Party 1.06 %

Election observers:
Georgia’s largest election observers’ organisation, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, said the election day had been “calm” and voting had occurred in accordance with the procedures in the majority polling station. The organisation did mention some “significant shortcomings,” including voting with an invalid ID mainly in Batumi (Adjara Autonomous Republic) and problems with voter lists. Another observer, the Tbilisi-based Transparency International Georgia, reported 70 cases of “significant procedural violations.”

The OSCE observers’ preliminary conclusions stated the election conduct was quite positive overall. The election was “efficiently administered, transparent and took place in an amicable and constructive environment. On election day, voters were able to express their choice freely.” However, the OSCE observers did note the election was “negatively impacted by allegations of political pressure, including on United National Movement (UNM) representatives at local-self governmental institutions.” Although the campaign eventually evolved from a confrontation between the Prime Minister and the President to a completion among the main candidates, “personality politics continued to dominate the public debate throughout the campaign.”

Parliamentary elections of 2012

Georgia has an extremely politicized society. Currently, there are hundreds of political parties, of which many are unregistered. Most do not have a well elaborated program and there is the recurring issue of internal party democracy (and the lack thereof). This diffusion became notable after the parliamentary election of October 2012, which led to the victory of the ideologically mixed coalition Georgian Dream under de leadership of Bidzina Ivanishvili. This coalition includes pro-market and pro-western liberals, social-democrats as well as radical nationalists with xenophobic rhetorics, and representatives of the Shevardnadze administration that was disempowered during the Rose Revolution of 2003.

The new Georgian Dream (GD) coalition defeated the ruling United National Movement, led by Saakashvili in the parliamentary elections of October 2012 with a 55 percent majority. The day after the elections both parties claimed the victory, but on 3 October, Saakashvili conceded his defeat, adding that his UNM was now going into opposition and pledged to contribute to a constitutional process of convening a new parliament and forming a new government by the Georgian Dream coalition.

According to the CEC, voter turnout was 60.8%, up from 53.9% in the 2008 parliamentary elections. During the elections, several international observers noted violations. “While the GD coalition has by and large been able to get its message across to Georgian voters, many of its supporters have been fined, fired, harassed, or detained for expressing their political views,” said Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty International’s expert on Georgia. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) described the election campaign as "confrontational and rough." The run-up to the October 1 vote had been coloured by mass protests against police brutality and torture in Georgia's prison system, which caused the resignations of numerous high-level officials, including the Minister in charge of the penitentiary and the Minister of Interior.

The Social Democrats for the Development of Georgia (SDD) participated in the elections
together with the Georgian Dream coalition, although not being officially a part of the
coalition, but more in an associate role. SDD leader Gia Jorjoliani is number 12 on the
Georgian Dream list, and thus obtained a parliamentary seat.

The Labour Party reportedly received about 1% of the vote, and thus failed to obtain a parliamentary seat.

On 25 October, Georgia's parliament confirmed a new government led by Ivanishvili. Some 88 legislators were in favor, while 54 voted against. Eight members of parliament were not present at the session held in Kutaisi. Georgia's new prime minister reiterated before the parliament that he planned to quit politics in just 18 months. "I will be responsible for the team, which I plan to leave in a year and a half, and I know that our opponents will use this situation, and I don't want them to sow nihilism in society," he said.

In its victorious election campaign Georgian Dream pledged to reduce the level of confrontation with Russia without sacrificing Georgia's overall path toward European integration, close relations with the United States, and NATO membership ambitions. Finding that middle path between confrontation and capitulation will be one of the toughest tasks for Ivanishvili, who lived and worked in Russia in the 1990s and who until recently held Russian citizenship. A major hint about how he plans to accomplish that came a few days after the October 2012 elections, when he named his cabinet. His choice of a foreign policy team suggests he plans to tone down the heated rhetoric that marked bilateral relations with Russia, improve economic ties, and revise Tbilisi's approach to the pro-Moscow breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Election results 2012

Party/coalition  % votes proportianal lists Seats proportianal lists Seats single-mandate constituencies Total
Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia 54.79 44 41 85
United National Movement 40.43 33 32 65
Voter turnout 60.8%

The August 2008 crisis

A priority spelled out by Mikhail Saakashvili after his election in 2004, was trying to bring back the breakaway regions under Georgian authority. He quickly established authority in Adjara, and shifted attention towards the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which led to sharp tensions, including with big neighbor Russia, already not too pleased with Georgian aspirations to join international organizations like NATO and the EU. In August 2008 tensions between Russia and Georgia started escalating. An incident of a Russian spy plane shot down over Georgian territory resulted in a brief full scale war.

On August 8th Georgian troops entered South Ossetia as, what the Georgian authorities would later claim, a response to Russian provocation. However, the Russian military response was  swift. As a result, the Georgian military was thrown back out of South Ossetia, after which the Russian side proceeded to enter Georgian territory. The Georgian side claimed grave shelling of the Georgian town of Gori, while the Russians retorted with similar accusations concerning the South Ossetian town of Tskhinvali. The war was officially over in 5 days, with a truce. The international community demanded that Russia withdraw its forces from Georgian territory. After some stalling that lasted several weeks, the Russian military eventually started dismantling their check points on Georgian territory. In a unilateral action the Russian Federation also recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and started diplomatic relations with the two as early as October.

The initial international response gravely condemned Russia for its actions and demanded withdrawal from Georgia. Especially the US started lobbying intensively for a sped-up Georgian accession to the NATO; something that European countries were somewhat divided in, even if equally condemning Russia. As time went by and investigations were launched, however, more and more reprimands started to appear towards the Georgian side as well as the Russian side. In October/November an independent international investigation group was created to look into the August events, headed by Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss diplomat who served as UN Secretary General's special representative to Georgia from 2002 to 2006. The report eventually put some of the blame on both sides.

State of emergency 2007
After the victory of Saakashvili in 2004, the new President announced his priority to be the fight against corruption and to make the country investor-friendly. His election campaign in the run-up to the partial parliamentary election of March 2004, focused on anti-corruption. Concerning this issue, he made some progress, especially in abolishing corruption on the lower levels (e.g. road police). However, the November 2007 protests showed that there was still a large public dissatisfaction about the level of corruption and the comparatively great executive powers of the President in Georgia.

The outgoing parliament adopted on 5 February 2004 far-reaching changes to the Constitution, which increased the power of the Executive. As a result, the President has the power to dissolve the parliament, while he or she can stay in government even when the parliament has expressed its lack of confidence. Presidential powers were also increased in other areas, including the judiciary.

The parliamentary elections of 28 March 2004 brought a landslide victory for the National Movement – Democrats, the party of President Saakashvili. The party won 156 of the 235 seats. Thus, the constitutional changes combined with the outcome of the elections made the position of Saakashvili even stronger than it already was shortly after the Rose Revolution. The strengthened position of the President, increased the level of fear for another era of one-party politics.

The way opposition-leaning media were treated in the following years fuelled this fear of one-party politics. Increasingly, the opposition-media suffered from state-repression and journalists increasingly showed acts of self-censorship. The harassment of journalists by state-officials also became a real problem between 2004 and 2006 (according to Freedom House) The ultimate act of repression of journalists could be seen on 7 November, when an opposition television station was shut down during a live broadcast of the news.

In early November 2007 as a result of violent public upheavals and a crackdown on protesters, Saakashvili declared a state of emergency. The international community criticized his actions. The European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, stressed that political differences should be resolved "within democratic institutions." A spokesperson for Solana said the European Union plans to send on November 9 its special representative to the South Caucasus region, Peter Semneby, to consult on the situation in Tbilisi. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe called on all sides to refrain from violence and engage in a "constructive dialogue." Russia, that was accused by Saakashvili to be the architect of the protests, expelled two Georgian diplomats from Moscow.

In response to this critique, on 8 November Saakashvili proposed to shorten his mandate. He subsequently stepped down on 25 November, paving the way for parliament to call an extraordinary presidential election for 5 January 2008. It was furthermore agreed that simultaneously with this election, plebiscites on joining the NATO and on the timing of the next parliamentary elections would also be held. The state of emergency was lifted on 16 November.

Gender and minority political participation

While there are no legal obstacles to women, Georgian politics remains dominated by men. Former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze was previously the woman holding the highest political function, but she left the National Movement shortly before the parliamentary elections in 2008. In those elections, three electoral blocks were led by women. Among the major political parties and electoral blocks, the Christian-Democratic Movement included most women on the lists with 32 percent. The Labour Party followed suit with 28 percent. The ruling United National Movement, which gained by far the most Seats, had one 8 percent female candidates. Only 12 percent of candidates in single mandate districts were women. This had led the OSCE to conclude that “women are overall under-represented, and few women candidates were highly visible in the campaign.”

National minorities enjoy full (political) rights under the Constitution, and make up 16.2 percent of Georgia’s population. The two largest national minorities in the country are the Azeri and the Armenians. Besides that, a variety of smaller groups live within the state borders. Due to the fact that minorities often do not speak Georgian, their level of political participation is relatively low. However, especially in the run-up to the latest presidential election, more information in Armenian, Azeri, Ossetian and Russian was provided. There are no ethnic political parties, although several parties have included members of national minorities in lists and as majoritarian candidates, nominating them in districts where minorities form a substantial part of the population.


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SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTIES

Social democrats for the development of Georgia
Leader: Gia Jorjoliani

The Social Democrats for the Development of Georgia (SDD) is a center-left wing political party established in February 2010. SDD has more than 1500 members and represents a strong leftist ideological identity. Since its establishment, SDD organized various activities related to greater promotion of Social Democratic ideas in Georgia within different political and social formats including organization of 2 months School for Studying of Social Democratic Ideas that aimed at increasing the knowledge of young people of leftist political and philosophical theories and practices.

After the parliamentary elections of October 2012, the SDD will be represented in the parliament with one seat. SDD participated in the elections jointly with the Georgian Dream bloc, but was not officially a member of the bloc, playing an associate role.


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OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES AND BLOCS

Georgian Dream Bloc
Leader: Irakli Garibashvili

The Georgian Dream coalition, concentrated around Irakli Garibashvili's Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party. It comprises six political parties of diverse ideological orientations. Besides the above mentioned social-democrats, it includes pro-market and pro-western liberals as well as radical nationalists with xenophobic rhetoric, and representatives of the Shevardnadze administration that was disempowered during the Rose Revolution of 2003. The bloc won the parliamentary elections of October 2012 with 53% of the vote, while the former governing United National Movement took 42%.

Parties or groups within Georgian Dream :
Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia
Leader: Irakli Garibashvili

The Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia party was established on 19 April 2012, through the efforts of the billionaire businessman and politician Bidzina Ivanishvili. Since the foundation, the party intended to challenge the ruling United National Movement in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2012. Georgian Dream succeded in this, gaining a victory over the UNM. Irakli Garibashvili is the party's leader since November 2013.
The party evolved from the public movement Georgian Dream, launched by Ivanishvili as a platform for his political activities in December 2011, soon after he announced that he would be entering politics. Since Ivanishvili was stripped of his Georgian passport – officially because of having other passports as well - lawyer Manana Kobakhidze was elected as an interim, nominal chairman of Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia. The party also includes several notable Georgians like ombudsman Sozar Subari, former diplomat Tedo Japaridze, chess grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili, security commentator Irakli Sesiashvili, writer Guram Odisharia and famed football player Kakha Kaladze.

Republican Party of Georgia
Leader: David Usupashvili

The Republican Party of Georgia, commonly known as the Republicans, has been active since 1978. In 2002 and 2003, the party forged an alliance with Saakashvili’s UNM, but after the latter’s rise to power the alliance ceased to exist. The Republicans turned against Saakashvili, claiming he used the same vote falsification tricks as his predecessor Shevardnadze. Since the parliamentary elections of 2008, the party was no longer represented in the parliament and only maintained its representation in Tbilisi City Assembly and Adjara's Supreme Council. The current chairman is Davit Usupashvili. The party’s declared platform includes the reforms of local self-governance, economy and a free and independent judiciary system. It supports Georgia’s pro-western line and bids to join the NATO and European Union. Since the 2012 parliamentary elections its leader Usupashvili is parliamentary speaker.

Our Georgia - Free Democrats
Leader: Irakli Alasania

The Our Georgia - Free Democrats (OGFD) party was founded in April 2009. The party used to be a member of the Our Georgia coalition, but this alliance fell apart in July 2010. The party focuses on fundamental rights for individuals. It supports a presidential republic with a strong parliament and an independent judicial system. OGFD supports a competitive, free market economy and the establishment of sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, employment creation and social protection systems. To this end, the parties should consider strengthening the institutions of private property and property rights, privacy, personal initiative and promote healthy competition. The party's foreign policy priorities are full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures, deepening and strengthening of good neighborly relations with the countries of the region and the improvement and strengthening of the country's defense. Since the 2012 parliamentary elections its leader Irakli Alasania is the vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Defence

National Forum
Leader: Kakha Shartava

The National Forum is an opposition political party established on December 2006 by former diplomat Kakha Shartava. He is the son of Zhiuli Shartava, a Georgian politician in Abkhazia, killed by the Abkhaz militias during the secessionist war in 1993. Several veteran politicians such as Revaz Shavishvili, Irakli Melashvili and Gubaz Sanikidze also joined the party. The National Forum advocates a parliamentary republic for Georgia. Unlike most other Georgian political parties, it does not support Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, and argues Georgia should be a "neutral country." The National Forum has been a member of the United Opposition alliance which staged mass anti-government demonstrations in November 2007 and ran on a joint ticket (the National Council -New Rights bloc) in the parliamentary election in May 2008.

Conservative Party of Georgia
Leader: Zviad Dzidziguri

The Conservative Party of Georgia is a centre-right and nationalist political party, active since 2001. Currently led by Zviad Dzidziguri, the party had been allied with Mikhail Saakashvili’s United National Movement until May 2004 when it switched to opposition. It was represented in the previous Parliament and, together with the Republican Party of Georgia members, formed the Democratic Front faction. They joined other opposition parties in the 2007 anti-government demonstrations and supported joint opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze in the early 2008 presidential election. During the parliamentary elections of 2008, the Conservative Party of Georgia was member of the National Council -New Rights opposition coalition. In 2012, the party joined the new Georgian Dream-coalition.

Industry Will Save Georgia
Leader: Zurab Tkemaladze

Industry Will Save Georgia is a conservative political party founded in 1991. During the legislative elections of 2004 and 2008, the party was part of the Rightist Opposition alliance. Four years later, they joined the Georgian Dream coalition for the parliamentary elections of October 2012.


United National Movement
Leader: Mikheil Saakashvili

The United National Movement (UNM) is led by former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who won a landslide victory in the January 2004 presidential elections, in which he received more than 96% of the votes. Four years later, he won a slight majority (53%). In the 2012 parliamentary elections however, the UNM lost its majority to the Georgian Dream coalition.

Saakashvili’s coalition was formed by the Republican Party and the Union of National Forces in 2001. At that time Saakashvili was minister and well-known for his anti-corruption measures. The coalition competed for the first time in the 2002 local elections, in which it reached the second place in Tbilisi. Saakashvili became the chair of the city council. The slogan of the 2003 elections was “Georgia without Shevardnadze”.

The UNM came to power after the Rose Revolution in November 2003. After the Rose Revolution, it united with the late former Prime-Minister Zurab Zhvania’s United Democrats, the Republican Party, supporters of Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze and one part of supporters of ex-President Zviad Gamsakhurdia - the Union of National Forces in the National Movement - Democrats coalition. Four years later, the coalition was renamed to United National Movement - for Victorious Georgia. In the 2012 elections the party participated without any coalition partners.  


Democratic Movement - United Georgia
Leader: Nino Burjanadze 

Democratic Movement – United Georgia is a centre-right political party in Georgia chaired by Nino Burjanadze. It was founded on 24 November 2008. The party favours closer ties with both Russia and the European Union while maintaining and expanding many of the current economic and social reform initiatives. It also seeks greater political freedom above and beyond what the Saakashvili administration claims to provide. It vehemently opposes what it characterizes as authoritarianism on the part of Saakashvili's government. The government accused itof plotting a coup in the wake of the 2008 South Ossetia war. In turn, the party has accused the government of conducting a "campaign of terror" against the opposition.
In the run-up to the elections of October 2012, the party refused to join talks on electoral reforms. The Democratic Movement was behind the May 21–26, 2011 rally, which ended with a clash with police, leaving four dead. The party didn’t participate in the 2012 parliamentary elections.


New Rights Party of Georgia
Leader: David Gamkrelidze

Like the Industry will save Georgia-party, the New Rights Party is known as a rich party, led by an important businessman (David Gamkrelidze). It is an associate member of the International Democrat Union and applicant of the European People's Party. The party criticized the Rose Revolution, which caused a major drop in their support. In December  2008, the New Rights Party joined the Republican Party of Georgia in a new opposition alliance, called "The Alliance for Georgia," led by Irakli Alasania, leader of the Our Georgia-Free Democrats party and Georgia's ex-envoy to the United Nations. The alliance later broke up.


Georgian Labour Party
Leader: Shalva Natelashvili

The Georgian Labour Party (GLP) was founded in 1995. The party claims to unite 220.000 members and has representatives in both the Georgian Parliament and in the different institutions of local governing and bodies of government. However, the Rose revolution brought a major blow to the popularity and membership of the party, since the leader condemned it.

Its main goal is to make Georgia a European democratic country and eventually to become a member of the EU. In connection to this, the party sees that many issues have to be solved to improve the situation in the country, including the development of democratic political processes. The party has a socialist orientation, demanding free healthcare, education and services. They have a support base especially amongst the poorer strata in Georgian society. However, the party leader’s sometimes controversial remarks have also led people to take the party less seriously.

In the November 2007 protests, party-leader Shalva Natelashvili was wanted for 'coup plotting' and 'espionage'. Police-forces searched his house. The Labour Party did manage to gain representation in the May 2008 elections, running on a separate ticket than the united opposition and winning 6 seats. However, 4 out of 6 parliamentarians for the Labour Party, including party leader Natelashvili froze their parliamentary activities as part of the parliament boycott of the opposition. In the October 2012 elections, only 1.24% voted for the Labour Party, leaving the party without any seats in the parliament.

The party has no status in the Socialist International


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BIOGRAPHIES

margvelashvili.jpgGiorgi Margvelashvili
President

Giorgi Margvelashvili, born on 4 September 1969 in Tbilisi, was elected as the fourth President of Georgia on October 27 with 62,2 percent of the vote. Margvelashvili started his career in Georgia’s politics in 2003 when he joined the opposition bloc Burjanadze-Democrats prior to the November parliamentary elections that year.  However, Margvelashvili quit politics when the Burjanadze-Democrats merged with Saakashvili’s United National Movement, after the allegation of fraudulent election brought up street protests and change of power in the Rose Revolution. In 2008 Margvelashvili became member of the board of advisers of Nino Burjanadze’s think-tank Foundation for Democracy and Development. By 2012, Margvelashvili had become a critic of Mikheil Saakashvili’s government and supported the Georgian Dream coalition set up by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. Despite of his support, Margvelashvili was not directly involved in the coalition’s election campaign and became politically independent.

As former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Science, he made his mark in the government of former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili as a reformer who revitalised the country’s education system after years of neglect. For instance, he created Georgia’s first school districts and announced free school books from 2013 in his first months as Minister of Education and Science. In May 2013 Margvelashvili was nominated, as a political independent, as presidential candidate of Ivanishvili’s GD party and he resigned from his executive posts. On the day of his inauguration, on November 17th, a new constitution came into effect, which significantly reduced the president’s power at the expense of the increasing power of the prime minister. 


irakli.jpgIrakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister

Irakli Garibashvili, born on 28 June 1982, has succeeded Bidzina Ivanishvili as Georgia’s Prime Minister, who voluntary stepped down in November 2013. Garibashvili can be seen as a long-time Ivanishvili protégé, who spent virtually his entire career until last fall working for entities owned by or affiliated with the former prime minister. He became politically involved in Georgia since the foundation of Ivanishvili’s party Georgian Dream in 2012 and was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs after the party’s victory in the parliamentary elections in October 2012, which made him the youngest member of Georgia’s new government.

During his year as head of the Interior Ministry, Garibashvili took a hard line on the arrests of several high-ranking officials from the previous government (United National Movement). He also singled out the use of the ministry as a tool of ‘political repression’ in the past and made its workings ‘transparent and open to public scrutiny’. Ivanishvili publicly credited him with restoring public trust in the police. On November 2nd Ivanishvili named Garibashvili as his successor on the post of prime minister and he was confirmed by parliament. Garibashvili currently occupies the most powerful political office in the country due to constitutional amendments, which have transferred power from the president to the prime minister and government. He was also soon after elected as the new chairman of Georgian Dream.


saaksashvili_2.jpg

Mikheil Saakashvili
Leader of the opposition United National Movement

Mikheil Saakashvili was the third president of Georgia and leader of the opposition United National Movement Party. He began his political career in 1995 when he won a seat in parliament for the party of President Shevardnadze, who was widely accused of rampant corruption and nepotism. Opinion surveys polled Saakashvili to be the second most popular person in Georgia, after Shevardnadze. In 2001 Saakashvili resigned as minister in Shevardnadze’s government, saying that corruption had penetrated to the very centre of the Georgian government and that Shevardnadze lacked the will to deal with it. After his resignation Saakashvili formed the United National Movement, a centre-right opposition party.

In 2003 Saakashvili ran against Shevardnadze. He lost the election, even though independent exit polls clearly indicated him as the winner. To fight against this alleged fraud Saakashvili called upon the Georgians to demonstrate. Over 100.000 followed the call in what is referred to as ‘the rose revolution’. The peaceful revolution managed to overthrow Shevarnadze, and Saakashvili succeeded him. He was re-elected in 2008. Saakashvili is widely regarded as a pro-NATO and pro-Western leader who spearheaded a series of political and economic reforms. In 2010, he was receiving a 67% approval rating. One of his biggest achievements is perhaps, what seems to be the total abolishment of corruption from the lower levels of society (e.g. road police). However Saakashvili is also criticized for authoritarian tendencies and alleged electoral fraud. Under his presidency relations with Russia drastically worsened as a result of the 2008 war.

Saakashvili’s final presidential term ended in October 2013 and Giorgi Margvelashvili succeeded him as president since 17 November 2013. With the defeat of the UNM in the parliamentary elections of October 2012 and in the presidential elections of October 2013, Saakashvili's UNM faced great losses


georgia.jpgIrakli Alasania
Minister of Defense

Irakli Alasania, born in 1973, is a former diplomat, currently the Minister of Defense of Georgia. He was born in Batumi, Adjara. His father was General Mamia Alasania, who was killed together with other Georgian politicians upon the fall of Sokhumi to the Abkhaz separatist forces on September 27, 1993. Irakli Alasania graduated from the Tbilisi State University with a degree in international law in 1995. Simultaneously he also studied at the Georgian Academy of Security from 1994 to 1996.

He worked for the Ministry of State Security from 1994 to 1998, and was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2001. He then served as deputy Minister of State Security from 2002 to 2004, and deputy Minister of Defense from March until July 2004, when he was moved to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia. He was Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Nations from 2006, until 2008. His previous assignments include Chairing the Government of Abkhazia(-in-exile) and being the President’s aide in the Georgian-Abkhaz talks. Soon after his resignation, Alasania withdrew into opposition to the Mikheil Saakashvili administration, setting up the Our Georgia – Free Democrats (OGFD) party in July 2009.

In September 2009, Alasania announced that he would run for Tbilisi mayor’s post in local elections in May 2010, but the authorities’ candidate won in those elections. In February 2012, the Georgian Dream Political Coalition was founded with the Free Democrats as one of the three co-founding political parties. With Alasania as the right hand of leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian Dream coalition won the election. On 25 October Alasania was endorsed as Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister by the new parliament.

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Flag of Georgia Georgia

Last update: 26 November 2013
Author: -

Population: 4.477 million (World Bank 2013 est.)
Prime Minister: Irakli Garibashvili (since November 2013)
President: Giorgi Margvelashvili (since November 2013)
Governmental type: Republic
Ruling Coalition: Georgian Dream coalition
Last Elections: Presidental, October 2013
Next Election: -
Sister Parties: Social-Democrats for Development of Georgia (Consultative party)

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Sources Sources

Elections and political situation
Alfred Mozer Stichting: Report Assessment visit to Georgia
BBC News Laywer claims Georgia Presidency
Country Profile Georgia
Civil.ge
Elections.ge
Electionworld.org
Eurasia.net: Georgia prepares for new parliamentary election
ICG: Georgia: What now? 3 December 2003
OSCE Election Reports

Corruption
RFE/RL Georgia: Saakashvili Raising Hopes That Corruption May Be Tackled In Earnest
Transnational Crime and Corruption Centre
Transparency International Corruption Index

Georgia’s separatist regions
BBC: South Ossetia
Civil.ge
ICG: Saakashvili’s Ajara success: Repeatable elsewhere in Georgia?
ICG Crisiswatch September 2004
Institute for War and Peace reporting
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Geopolitical situation
BBC Russia warns Georgia after threat

CSIS: Iraq and the Caucasus
European Commission: EU’s relations with Georgia
European Neighborhood Policy
IIAS Newsletter, article M.P. Amineh: Rethinking Geopolitics in Post-Soviet Central Eurasia
Transitions Online (March – August 2004)

Economic situation and poverty
BBC: Russian tycoon to reform Georgia
Civil.ge
UNDP Georgia

Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline
BTC
Edie news centre BTC pipeline construction suspended
Friends of the Earth
Goldman Prize recipient
Independent.co.uk Exposed: BP, its pipeline, and an environmental time bomb

Political Parties and Blocs
CSIS Caucasus Elections Watch
Elections.ge
ICG: Georgia: What now? 3 December 2003

Biographies
RFE/RL
Civil.ge
The Telegraph
Government.gov

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