Photo: Cathedral of Gori – Tiia Monto, Wikimedia Commons
The Georgian electorate in Gori-Kaspi went to the polls on Sunday 1 October for interim parliamentary elections in Gori and Kaspi. The election – which was held early because of the exit of MP Giorgi Khojevanishvili, member of the For Georgia party, but elected while being a member of the ruling Georgian Dream party. He told reporters he resigned because he was limited in playing a positive role due to the fact he was part of the opposition. He left politics and returned to the private sector. The voters in the constituency of Gori-Kaspi decided who represents them for the final year of the parliamentary term, with next year’s parliamentary elections ahead. The Georgian Dream party won these Gori-Kaspi by-elections by a landslide, as other major parties did not participate in the elections. A total of 25.627 voters took part, making a turnout of 23,51%. Political participation in Georgia is usually very low and Georgians have generally low trust in the political parties. A survey in 2023 found that 73% of voters agreed to the fact that there is no party who defends their interest.
With almost all votes counted the results of the interim parliamentary elections are as follows. Georgian Dream candidate Giorgi Sosiashvili won the elections by landslide obtaining more than 74% of the cast ballots – 19,032 votes. Runner up Mamuka Tuskadze, candidate of the minor extra-parliamentary party For Social Justice, received 1,344 votes.
The major opposition parties did not participate in this election and did not file a candidate. Reasons behind the boycott are on the one hand the introduction of electronic voting, especially the United National Movement (UNM) opposes this practice. On the other hand the opposition parties refused to participate due to the electoral system. Georgia uses a system of parallel voting in which seats are partly allocated according to the proportional vote and partly allocated based on the constituencies. From 2024 onwards, Georgia will switch to a fully proportional electoral system. This election was the last election under the current system, so participation of opposition parties in by-elections is presumably more likely to occur in the future.
In 2024 parliamentary election will be held. Due to the lack of participation of opposition parties, the elections in Gori-Kaspi are not a useful indicator for the upcoming elections in 2024. Though, other local elections have shown decreased support for the governing Georgian Dream party, with a lower number of absolute votes for the party in comparison to the parliamentary elections in 2020. Moreover, electoral turnout in Georgia remains very low. Question now is whether the relatively weak opposition can mobilize their electorate to benefit from the dissatisfaction that lives in society.
Written by Ype Verhagen