Public spaces and media outlets in Georgia are periodically occupied by ultra-conservative, violent and xenophobic groups, some of whom staged a brutal retaliation on July 5-6 in the center of Tbilisi, where several dozen journalists and civil activists were beaten. These groups of blacks are directly or indirectly supported, openly or covertly, by pro-Russian political parties, although, as the October 2 election showed, on the Conservative wing, despite the growing activism of radicals, the electorate of the respective parties has shrunk instead of growing.
According to a public opinion poll conducted by Edison Research three weeks before the October 2, 2021 election, Levan Vasadze’s Eri party received 2 percent of the vote, while the Patriots Alliance received 3 percent of the vote.
Playing on the Conservative wing, these two prominent parties also attracted public attention before the election. Levan Vasadze and his comrades-in-arms (MMC, Alt-Info, etc.) demonstrated by organizing a violent rally on July 5, 2021, burning the EU flag in front of the parliament and raising a cross, and the Patriots Alliance in an open letter to the president of the occupying country, Russia. He called for “easing tensions and resuming dialogue at all levels.”
Levan Vasadze’s “Nation” did not participate in the October 2 elections, while the “Georgian Patriots Alliance”, according to the Central Election Commission, was supported by only 1.46% of voters. In the 2020 parliamentary elections, this figure was 3.1%, in 2016 – 5%.
Commenting on the election results, Irma Inashvili, the leader of the Patriots Alliance, said that the Georgian Dream was trying to hand over power to the United National Movement from 2018, while the Patriots Alliance was preventing it:
“From now on, we are gladly fighting the Georgian Dream and constantly falsifying our results. “Everyone understands that it is inconceivable for our party to have 1.5 percent.”
Why is it incredible?
Koba Turmanidze, director of the Caucasus Research Resource Center, says it is inconceivable that on the conservative wing, a large party like the Georgian Dream deprives voters of small parties of the same ideology.
“Support for these parties has waned because the major parties, especially the Georgian Dream, have begun to use similar rhetoric, which I do not mean pro-Russian rhetoric. We are talking about more conservative-unpatriotic rhetoric, which was relatively less in the election program of a large party and because of which the voters often went to smaller parties, ”said Koba Turmanidze.
Ilia University professor, philosopher Zurab Chiaberashvili also says that the Georgian Dream is forced to regain its natural niche, which, for obvious reasons, deprives voters of small parties whose existence, rather than having a high rating, allowed Bidzina Ivanishvili.
“At a time when the Georgian Dream was strong, even in 2016, Ivanishvili had the luxury of playing himself in the middle of the political spectrum, surrounded by radical, black, xenophobic and homophobic pro-Russian groups, but when he struggled, he lost his legitimacy. Would return to its natural niche, the so-called Asaval-Dasavli ideology. Consequently, the Georgian Dream naturally absorbed the electorate of this ideology, which had been scattered before. In fact, this type of “black” electorate is not only 3-5 percent of what the “Alliance of Patriots” used to receive, but much more. “Some of them were already in the Georgian Dream, but now they are almost completely absorbed,” said Zurab Chiaberashvili.
How mobile is the voter, easily changing choices?
According to Koba Turmanidze, loyalty to parties in Georgia is very weak and is based not so much on ideology as on symbolic benefits:
“Everyone should be associated with a party that wins. Many years of experience tell us that the winning party has more supporters post-facto than it had before the election. A similar mechanism works here as well. “Georgian voters are not in close ideological ties with the parties, so it does not mean much to him to move from a small party to a big party supporter when the promises, ideology and views are similar.”
The failure of pro-Russian and hate-based political groups has largely been due to the return of Irakli Gharibashvili as prime minister, which has almost completely “absorbed” the 2-3% that these groups received in previous elections, said Bfasashvili, founder of the Institute for Tolerance and Diversity. , So called “Georgian Dream” was replaced by “Georgian Dream” itself.
“This is evidenced by the government’s pre-election emphasis on anti-Western sentiment: July 5 and the twice-raised EU flag, the official refusal to protect minorities, and the demarche against the EU, its withdrawal from the Charles Michel Treaty. “All this, in the end, on the one hand, could be read as close as possible to the Patriarchate and an attempt to take the place of radicals,” Beka Mindiashvili told RFE / RL.
Where is the electoral power of the church headed?
According to Beka Mindiashvili, the reality in this regard has not changed significantly during the rule of the Georgian Dream. The support of the Church, which for years has been directed entirely at the government, is still crucial or not, playing an important role in the success of the ruling party.
“Let us recall the infamous joint special operation of” Gareji Georgia “during the previous elections. However, the effect of the secret recordings will probably increase in the future, and the factor of the church will decrease accordingly, but now it was not so obvious during the local elections, ”said Beka Mindiashvili.
- Where did Vasadze’s electorate go?
Levan Vasadze’s party “Nation” did not participate in the October 2, 2021 elections. According to Zurab Chiaberashvili, the reason for this is that the Georgian Dream did not like the fragmentation of the electorate.
“Supporters of Vasadze or the Alliance of Patriots, any such groups, Alt-Info, Asaval-Dasavali, etc. – Everyone is now gathered with Ivanishvili. “They have always been with him politically, but now they are also in the election piggy bank of the Georgian Dream.”
According to Zurab Chiaberashvili, despite the fact that the “Georgian Dream” absorbed the so-called The black electorate received a total of 110,000 fewer votes than in the previous elections, so the Georgian Dream has no prospects for growth, but as Zurab Chiaberashvili suggests, based on the election results in the Urban Centers, the Georgian Dream will soon have no other electorate. Will have.
“The urban population was very frightened by the hatred and violence that the whole of Georgia saw during July. That is why almost the entire urban population rejected the Georgian Dream. That was a very big factor. “The more the Dream is alienated from the progress-oriented urban population, the sharper and clearer its blackened face will be, and that Vasadze, the Alliance of Patriots and their electorate, is entirely the Georgian Dream electorate,” Zurab Chiaberashvili told RFE / RL.