Parliamentary Elections

October 31, 2020


Georgian Dream won a clear plurality of the vote with 48.2% with UNM in second place at 27.2% (EG 3.8%; AP 3.1%; LG 3.2%; Girchi 2.0%; Strategy Aghmashenebeli 3.2%). However, after GD declared victory, opposition parties denounced the conduct of the vote (claiming electoral fraud) and renounced their seats in parliament until new elections are organized. Although the OSCE declared the election competitive, there were allegations of pressure on voters and the increasing overlap between party and state negatively impacted the public’s confidence in the process.


  • Unicameral legislature in a parliamentary representative democratic republic; there are 150 Members of Parliament (MPs); members are elected to a four-year term under a mixed electoral system; 1 in every 4 candidates on party lists must be a woman in 2020.
  • Ahead of the election, constitutional amendments increased the number of proportional seats from 77 to 120 and decreased majoritarian seats from 73 to 30; in 2020 120 MPs will be elected through closed party list proportional vote; 30 MPs will be elected in single-member constituencies; to secure a majority, a party must win at least 40% of the party-list vote.
  • To qualify for proportional seats, parties must exceed a threshold of at least 1% of votes cast (down from 5%); majoritarian candidates proposed by parties or individuals and must receive 50% of votes cast to be elected; if no majoritarian candidates receive majority of votes, a runoff election is held.
  • Incumbent: Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GD), led by the founder and chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili; the current Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, is a member of GD; the party is at its second term parliamentary majority.



  • Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GD): center-left; seeks a more positive and stable relationship with Russia while cooperating with the European Union; the party is officially led by Giorgi Gakharia but in reality led by controversial billionaire and former prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
  • United National Movement – United Opposition bloc (UNM): center-right; established by controversial former prime minister Mikheil Saakashvili who was stripped of his Georgian citizenship by the current government; sentenced to nine years in jail in absentia and is running his campaign in exile from Ukraine where he serves as an advisor to the Ukrainian government; currently led by Grigol Vashadze; pro-Euro-Atlantic integration; highly critical of Russia and the Georgian Dream party; UNM will nominate Saakashvili as prime minister.
  • European Georgia — Movement for Liberty (EG): center-right; brands itself as more liberal than United National Movement; led by former UNM member David Bakradze; strongly supports integration with the European Union and membership in NATO; favors deregulation, liberalization, and small government.
  • Alliance of Georgian Patriots (AP): nationalist and pro-Russia; led by Irma Inashvili, current deputy chairperson in parliament; critical of European integration; campaigned against NATO membership; has been accused of allegedly receiving funds from the Russian government.
  • Lelo for Georgia (LG): centrist party; led by businessman and multimillionaire Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of the Anaklia Development Consortium whose port project was terminated by the current government; aims to end two-party political system; pro- Europeanism.
  • Girchi: libertarian and right wing; led by Zurab Djafaridze; a former member of the United National Movement; the party supports small, transparent government, deregulation of the economy; wants to overturn Georgia’s restrictive drug policies; pro- Europeanism.
  • Strategy Aghmashenebeli: center-right; led by Giorgi Vashadze, a former United National Movement member; pro-European; the party supports smaller government and deregulation of education.


Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Strategically positioned on the Black Sea and an energy conduit to Europe, Georgia is an important United States and NATO ally. Georgia joined the Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and during the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, the United States backed the pledge that Georgia would eventually become a member of the organization. In 2015, NATO established a Joint Training and Evaluation Center to help modernize Georgian military forces and increase their operability with NATO.
  • Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 allowed the former to establish control of two breakaway and strategically-located regions—Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia’s occupation of these two regions, violations of a 2008 ceasefire agreement, lack of negotiating process and continued Russian territorial encroachment and integration is a constant source of tension between the two countries.
  • The United States and Georgia declared a Strategic Partnership in 2009 and in 2019, they signed a Security Cooperation Framework that reaffirmed the U.S.-Georgia strategic relationship and prioritized bilateral security cooperation. Since 2017, the U.S. has launched initiatives to “train and sustain forces to…deter Russia” and sold over 400 Javelin anti-tank missiles and other major defensive lethal weapons to Georgia.
  • In January, Georgian government scrapped an investment agreement with an international consortium to construct the $2.5 billion Anaklia deep seaport, one of the biggest projects in the country. The port had received support from the United States and the European Union, which had characterized it as a priority project. The consortium’s founder, Mamuka Khazaradze, accused the government of sabotaging the project and launched his own political party.
  • As an East-West transit hub, Georgia is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The two countries have signed a free trade association agreement, increased investment in infrastructure projects, and more than quadrupled trade turnover from $180 million in 2009 to over $1 billion in 2019. According to preliminary data by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, China has surpassed Russia and Azerbaijan to become the top trading partner in total exports in 2020.


Key Issues to Watch

  • This election is the first to occur under Georgia’s new proportional representation electoral system. This summer, the parliament voted to adopt the constitutional amendments on parliament seat, voting thresholds, and gender quotas among others. The shift from majoritarian to proportional electoral districts is expected to weaken the position of the ruling Georgian Dream party (in majoritarian districts, government candidates usually win). The elections may bring about the first coalition government in Georgia’s history.
  • The future of Georgian-Russian relations is on the ballot once again. Anti-government protests broke out in June 2019 triggered by the presence of a Russian parliamentarian in Georgia’s parliament. This is also a grudge match between the true leaders of the two- party system, GD and UNM, Bidzina Ivanishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili. Both leaders are polarizing figures but opposition to Saakashvili and his team has divided UNM into different parties. Observers warn that his presence may be to the detriment of the opposition.
  • Armenians and Azerbaijanis make up the largest minorities in Georgia. Although Tbilisi has good relations with its neighbors Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey, the rekindled Nagorno-Karabakh war became an election issue when Mr. Saakashvili declared that the disputed territory is Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, perhaps in the hopes of intensifying anti-Russian sentiment over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
  • Although the ruling Georgian Dream received praise for effectively managing the outbreak this summer, cases are now rising fast — from 19 deaths and 1,510 total infections on September 1 to 253 deaths and nearly 34,000 total infections as of October 29.



According to October 18 IPSOS poll, the ruling party is likely to receive 26.2% of the vote while the United National Movement may obtain 17.8%, with the rest as follows: Giorgi Vashadze - Strategy Aghmashenebeli at 5.3%, European Georgia at 5.1%, Lelo for Georgia, Girchi at 2.7%, Labor Party at 2.1%, and Alliance for Patriots at 1.2%. A sizeable portion of the electorate remains undecided providing an element of unpredictability as well as uncertainty around the formation of Georgia’s first multi-party coalition government.