Georgian Dream may remain the major political force in parliament, but will need to secure coalition partners

Parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for October 2020, and the country is approaching the date amidst notable shifts in the political landscape.

Georgian political arena has been long dominated by two major opposing political forces, the Georgian Dream party (GD) and center-right United National Movement (UNM), which caused significant electoral discontent and eventually resulted in mass demonstrations in June of 2019. The protesters were claiming that the electoral system at the time was unfairly favoring GD. As a result, political parties in Georgia negotiated an electoral reform, which took effect from March 2020. Now the parliament will consist of 120 members elected through a proportional voting system, while 30 members will be elected through a majority system. The electoral threshold has been lowered to 1% for political parties.

According to the current polls, this reform will have two major effects on political life. Apart from more political forces being able to enter the parliament, none of the parties will be able to form a single majority – for the first time since 2003 – and we should expect a coalition government.

We consider the following constraints in government coalition formation. GD and UNM have been in long-standing and fierce opposition to each other, and we, therefore, exclude the possibility of their joint coalition. The center-right European Georgia (EG), which split from UNM in 2017, is reportedly reconsidering the move and is in talks with UNM to form a faction in the upcoming parliament. The two pro-Russian parties, Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG) and Democratic Movement – United Georgia (DMUG), are expected to share GD’s sentiments towards pro-western UNM and EG, so the cooperation of these two blocs is also excluded. Libertarian Girchi has previously refused to join a coalition with GD.

Further constraints concern Lelo for Georgia (Lelo), a new political party in Georgia, which, according to its leader, was created with the purpose to counter the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the United National Movement (UNM) opposition. The Development Movement (DM) has launched political cooperation with Lelo, which excludes a coalition with GD or UNM.

Based on these constraints and the results of the current polls we present our forecast of government formation in Georgia.

Constraints in coalition formation
Projected seats (bar size) vs. strategic influence of political parties (red lines)
Predicted government coalitions (white line denotes the level of stability)

All 3 projected scenarios include GD as the leading political force in the new Parliament. The most stable (most likely) scenario involves the center-left Georgian Labor Party (SLP), which has never been a part of any governing coalition, and APG. Other potential GD’s coalitions include SLP or APG and DMUG and centrist Civil Movement (Civil).

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