Africa Asia Europe North America South America Oceania
You are here: Home > Asia > Georgia

Georgia Politics

State and politics

GOVERNMENT

Georgia proclaimed independence in 1991 and the current constitution was adopted in 1995; however, it has been revised several times since then. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how GA can stand for Georgia.

Political System of Georgia

In 2010, Parliament approved constitutional amendments that limit the president's previously extensive power in favor of the Prime Minister and Parliament. The president is the head of state, commander-in-chief and supreme representative of Georgia in foreign relations. The prime minister is the head of government. Until 2018, the president was elected in direct elections for a period of five years; However, Salome Zurabishvili, president since 2018, has been elected for six years.

According to constitutional amendments approved in 2017, after 2018, the president is to be elected by an electoral college consisting of 300 members, among them members of parliament. The president is elected for five years and can serve a maximum of two terms of office.

After amendment of the constitution approved by referendum in 2003, Parliament has 150 members elected for a term of 4 years. 77 members are elected in proportionate elections and 73 in majority voting in one-man constituencies. According to constitutional amendments in 2017, Georgia will switch completely to proportional elections in 2024.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Since 1991, the territorial integrity of the Georgian state has been challenged by the Abkhazia and South Ossetian outbreak regions, both of which had the status of autonomous regions within the borders of the then Soviet Republic of Georgia. Georgian authorities' control over the two regions has largely ceased after the Russian Federation, in connection with a military intervention in 2008 in support of South Ossetia, recognized both outbreak regions as independent states.

Only a few states, including Nicaragua, Venezuela and Syria, have followed the Russian example; the international community at large stands firm on the position of 1992, when all 15 Soviet republics were recognized as independent states with the borders they had when the Soviet Union disbanded. Autonomous territories within the Soviet Republic did not achieve international recognition. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are still international law territories under the jurisdiction of the Georgian state.

In Georgia's constitution, Abkhazia is defined as an autonomous republic. South Ossetia's status as autonomous territory was abolished in 1990 and the area is defined in current constitution as the former autonomous region of South Ossetia. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have de facto independent state structures, their own political systems and armed forces. Both have semi-presidential systems and have conducted both presidential and parliamentary elections several times since the mid-1990s.

Policy

Independence was declared after a referendum by Georgia's Supreme Soviet on April 9, 1991. Armed conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia marked Georgia's first year as an independent state. Zviad Gamsachurdia, a former dissident who came to power in the 1990 parliamentary elections and overwhelmingly elected president in May 1991, pursued a strong nationalist policy. He was overthrown by the opposition under the former head of the National Guard, Tengiz Kitovani (born 1939), in January 1992. On March 10, Eduard Shevardnadze was appointed chairman of the newly formed Council of State.

In September 1993, when the country was threatened by armed resistance from the overthrown Gamsachurdia's supporters as well as Abkhazian outbreak forces, Shevardnadze appealed to Moscow for help. As a result, Georgia applied for membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and became a member in December 1993.

Shevardnadze, who was elected in the direct elections to the President of Parliament (in effect President) in October 1992, was elected in November 1995 to the re-elected presidential office for five years. In the parliamentary elections held simultaneously he secured his position. In the same year, the first constitution of post-Soviet Georgia was adopted.

In November 2003, Shevardnadze was forced to step down as president after major demonstrations in protest against electoral fraud. The essentially peaceful event has been called the Revolution of the Roses, after the flowers that the protesters carried in their hands as they stormed Parliament. After a short period of interim rule, reform politician Micheil Saakashvili, leader of the National Democratic Movement (NDR), was elected new president. Shortly thereafter, in March 2004, the same party won a landslide victory in free, internationally monitored elections. The NDR also became the largest party in the 2008 parliamentary elections and Saakashvili was re-elected the same year as president. The new power relations in Georgia brought with it greatly improved relations between Georgia and the West, and worse relations with the Russian Federation.

During the latter part of the 1990s, opposition to President Saakashvili and the National Democratic Movement grew. Demonstrations against the regime in 2007 were violated by violent methods by the police. Corruption and cheating in the 2008 elections, which could be plagued by both domestic and international observers, reinforced the image that Georgia was developing in an authoritarian direction.

An armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation erupted in August 2008 following Georgian attempts to regain control of South Ossetia. The Russian offensive in South Ossetia was also rapidly extended to Georgian territory. The Russian forces later withdrew from Georgia, but have remained in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since they immediately declared themselves independent states after the war. However, they are only recognized by a handful of states including the Russian Federation. (See further above.)

The war on South Ossetia was a burden on Saakashvili, both foreign and domestic. The decline in foreign investment as a result of the war combined with the effects of the global financial crisis, the regime's increasing authoritarian style and a selective fight against corruption created social unrest and growing protests.

In 2011, on the initiative of the businessman and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili (born 1956), the new party Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia (DG) was formed. The party led a constituency consisting of six opposition liberal/conservative/nationalist parties, which together won the parliamentary elections in October 2012. Ivanishvili became the new prime minister for a new government. In the 2013 presidential election, the Deputy Prime Minister, the relatively inexperienced Giorgi Margvelashvili (born 1969), already won the first round; DG thus controlled both the executive and the legislative power.

Ivanishvili resigned in November 2013 and was succeeded as prime minister by Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili (born 1982), a former business colleague of Ivanishvili who was co-founder and DG. As a result of disagreement with President Margvelashvili, who has become increasingly critical of the DG's dominance of power, Garibashvili resigned in December 2015. His successor Giorgi Kvirikasjvili (born 1967) had been Foreign Minister.

In the October 2016 parliamentary elections, the position of DG was further strengthened when the party gained 115 of the Parliament's 150 seats. The NDR became the second largest party with 27 seats. After the election, tensions between Margvelashvili and DG increased. By veto, the president tried in vain to stop legislative proposals for further restrictions on the head of state's powers in the constitution. In June 2018, Prime Minister Kvirika Kashvili resigned as a result of disagreement with Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has resigned as leader of DG, and was replaced by Finance Minister Mamuka Baktadze (born 1982). Baktadze resigned from the post of prime minister in the fall of 2019, reportedly after losing Ivanishvili's support. He was succeeded by the controversial former Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia (born 1975)); the opposition boycotted the vote in parliament.

Margvelashvili did not stand for re-election in the October 2018 presidential election. The election was decided in the second round in November between Salome Zurabishvili, who was nominated as independent but supported by DG, and Grigol Vasjadze (born 1958), NDR's candidate. Zurabishvili was declared victorious with 59 percent of the vote, a result that Vaskhade refused to accept and which was also questioned by international election observers. The French-born diplomat Zurabishvili was foreign minister in Michel Saakashvili's government before she went into opposition in 2006 and founded the party's Georgia road. She is Georgia's first female president.

The totally dominant position of the DG and the informal influence of billionaire Bidzina Ivanichvili on government decisions has hampered democratic development. Nevertheless, Georgia is one of the former Soviet republics that has been most successful in establishing a democratic governance.

International commitments

Georgia is one of the most Western-oriented states in the former Soviet area, and from the outset strived to achieve as close cooperation as possible with Western organizations to reduce its political vulnerability to the Russian Federation. Georgia was also one of GUAM's initiators. Georgia has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace since 1994 and since 1999 in the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Georgia formally applied for membership in NATO in 2005, but lack of control over parts of state territory and the country's conflicting relationship with the Russian Federation have reduced the chances of NATO membership.

Georgia and the EU have signed several agreements and agreements to deepen the political and economic integration between the partners; since 2017, Georgian citizens can enter the Schengen area without applying for a visa.

Judiciary

As a Soviet republic, Georgia had the same type of judiciary (courts, legislation, police and prosecutors) as the other Soviet Union. The courts were independent and were also an instrument of political leadership. Local party and state agencies intervened in the courts' work. In the Soviet debate, this was called "telephone law". The situation did not change immediately after the new independence after 1991, but the legal security remained inadequate. Through the new constitution of 1995, some stability has been achieved.

Georgia has a judicial system including a Supreme Court and a Constitutional Court. The death penalty was abolished in 1997; the last known execution took place in 1994.

Human Rights

Since Georgia's independence in 1991, the country has been characterized by political instability and popular uprisings. In the conflict-affected territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, separatist movements have emerged (see State and Politics), but due to lack of transparency, reports on the human rights situation in the outbreak regions are scarce.

Hundreds of thousands of people live as internal refugees as a result of the domestic conflicts. Particularly vulnerable are children on the run and the country's many street children who are at risk of violence and sexual abuse.

During the 2000s, extensive street demonstrations have replaced each other in response to widespread corruption within the state and the judiciary as well as withdrawn social benefits for war veterans, among others. Protesters and journalists are often met by both verbal attacks and police violence. Georgia has previously had a relatively tough media climate, but Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015 noted that the country has risen 30 places since 2010.

Arbitrary detention is common. Political opponents have on several occasions been apprehended and subsequently prosecuted and prosecuted for crimes on loose grounds. Human rights groups report several cases of violations, abuse and degrading treatment in the country's prisons. The impunity for the perpetrators is extensive. The prisons are heavily overcrowded and the sanitary conditions are substandard.

Georgia has constitutional anti-discrimination laws as well as a national action plan on domestic violence. Violence against women is still a major problem and especially in relationships. LGBTQ people also face discrimination and threats from ordinary citizens as well as representatives of the Orthodox Church. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2000.

When it comes to structural discrimination and difficulties in integrating into society, the country's number of major ethnic minorities, Azerbaijanis and Armenians, is greatly affected.

Heads of State

Presidents

1991-92 Zviad Gamsachurdia
1992-2003 Eduard Sjevardnadze *
2003-04 Nino Burdzjanadze (interim)
2004-13 Micheil Saakashvili
2013-18 Giorgi Margvelashvili
2018- Salome Zurabishvili

* 1992-95 President of Parliament

Other Countries in Asia

Politics eZine Copyright 1999 - 2020 All Rights Reserved