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No space for small parties in Georgian politics

22 February 2024

In April 2021, the ruling Georgian Dream party struck a deal with Georgia’s opposition that promised to end a political gridlock. With unprecedented involvement from the EU, the deal, among other things, promised Georgian political groups that the electoral threshold for parliamentary elections would be reduced from 5% to a maximum of 2%.

The low electoral threshold would have ensured a much fairer distribution of mandates, and more opportunities for smaller opposition parties to gain a foothold and make their voices heard. However, 34 months after the deal was struck, the key pillars of the optimistically named ‘A Way Ahead for Georgia’ agreement have yet to be implemented.

Despite ditching the April 2021 agreement in July of that year, Georgian Dream held on to their promise of a lower electoral threshold for a few months longer, before abandoning it in September.

In the summer of 2022, the then-chair of Georgian Dream and current Georgian prime minister, Irakli Kobakhidze, tried to bargain with the EU by offering to drop the threshold to 2% if Georgia received EU membership candidate status later that year. Georgia secured candidacy last November, but the ruling party then backtracked on their promise, claiming it was outdated.

The incumbent party and the former ruling United National Movement are the parties most able to surpass the 5% threshold; it is consequently not surprising that they don’t care much about the issue. It also makes sense that the majority of Georgia’s smaller political groups would welcome the threshold’s lowering, as it would significantly increase their chances of gaining independent representation.

What’s remarkable is that, in 2022, Georgian Dream revived the topic on its own initiative, with little, if any, popular demand for it, albeit following public outrage over the government’s slow progress towards EU integration.

But with eight months before Georgia’s next general elections, the topic seems to have disappeared into the reeds again, with most opposition groups apparently unmotivated to campaign for it. At the same time, a number of their leaders have already declared their refusal to form coalitions in the run-up to October.


So once again, Georgia finds itself stuck between strongmen who have loomed over the country’s politics for over a decade, with its opposition acting in a manner that can be reasonably be described as delusional.

While there’s a real appetite for a political alternative in Georgia, its smaller parties appear committed to preventing any such alternative from emerging. Failing to campaign for a lower threshold, these political players seem content to shout from the sidelines, while avoiding entering the fray.

Yours sincerely,