The Politics of Georgia
is structured as a presidential representative democratic republic
), with a multi-party system
, and the President
as head of government
. Executive power
is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power
is vested in both the government
and parliament. Since the Rose Revolution
, the party system is dominated by the National Movement - Democrats
) in Georgian
) has been a democratic republic
since the first multiparty
, democratic parliamentary
elections of October 28
The Georgian state is highly centralized, except for the autonomous
regions of Abkhazia
and South Ossetia
, which are to be given autonomous status if Georgia's territorial integrity is restored. Those regions had an autonomous status within Georgian SSR
during Soviet rule
. Abkhazia and South Ossetia seceded unilaterally from Georgia.
The debate on constitutional monarchy in Georgia, by restoring the historic Bagrationi royal family, has recently been revitalized by Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II and other leading Georgians, following the political crisis in recent years.
Following a crisis involving allegations of ballot fraud in the 2003 parliamentary elections, Eduard Shevardnadze
resigned as president on November 23
in the bloodless Rose Revolution
. The interim president was the speaker of the outgoing parliament (whose replacement was annulled), Nino Burjanadze
. On January 4
, 2004 Mikheil Saakashvili
, leader of the United National Movement
won the country's presidential election and was inaugurated on January 25
Fresh parliamentary elections were held on March 28, 2004, where the United National Movement's parliamentary faction, the National Movement - Democrats (NMD), secured the vast majority of the seats (with ca. 75% of the votes). Only one other party reached the 7% threshold: the Rightist Opposition with ca. 7.5%. The vote is believed to have been one of the freest ever held in independent Georgia although an upsurge of tension between the central government and the Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze affected the elections in this region.
Tensions between Georgia and Ajaria increased after the elections, climaxing on May 1, 2004 when Abashidze responded to military maneuvers held by Georgia near the region by having the three bridges connecting Ajaria and the rest of Georgia over the Choloki River blown up. On May 5, Abashidze was forced to flee Georgia as mass demonstrations in Batumi called for his resignation and Russia increased their pressure by deploying Security Council secretary Igor Ivanov.
On February 3, 2005, Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania allegedly died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an apparent gas leak at the home of Raul Usupov, deputy governor of Kvemo Kartli region. Later, Zhvania's close friend and a long-time ally, Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli was appointed for the vacant post by President Saakashvili.
In January 2006 a new party, Georgia's Way, was created. The movement is led by former Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili, and appears to be relatively popular. An opinion poll conducted by the Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra and published on April 10 2006 suggested that Salome Zourabichvili would garner 23.1% of votes if a presidential election were held today. President Saakashvili ranked first with 33% - an all-time low for the Georgian President - whilst no other individual managed to surpass double-digit levels of support. Georgia's Way has said it intends to have candidates for all the seats in Georgia's upcoming local elections, with Zourabichvili hoping to become Tbilisi Mayor.
The debate on restoring a constitutional monarchy in Georgia was revitalized with the emerging political crisis in Georgia through-out 2007 following the October 7 2007 sermon of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, the popular head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The patriarch, who has always sympathized with the idea of constitutional monarchy, said, during his Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, that the restoration of the Bragrationi royal family was a "desirable dream of the Georgian people". He also emphasized that if the people of Georgia chose this model of governance, "a candidate to the crown should be selected among representatives of the royal dynasty, and (s)he should be suitably raised to be king from childhood."
After the Rose Revolution
Georgia started looking westwards. The government — with strong public support — aims at EU
- and NATO
-membership, and has created an own Department of Euro-integration. In NATO-context Georgia is currently in Intensified Dialogue
(and will probably become a MAP
-country in December 2008), while membership in the EU
is a more distant project. These moves are supported by the most popular of the opposition parties - Georgia's Way
and the Rightist Opposition
The Abkhaz separatist dispute absorbs much of the government's attention. While a cease-fire
is in effect about 250,000 internally displaced persons
(IDPs) who were driven from their homes during the conflict, constitute a vocal lobby
. The government has offered the region considerable autonomy in order to encourage a settlement that would allow the IDPs (mainly ethnic Georgians from the Gali
district) to return home, however the Abkhaz side refused to accept it.
Currently, Russian peacekeepers are stationed in Abkhazia under the authority of the Commonwealth of Independent States, along with UN observers but both groups have recently had to restrict their activities due to increased mining and guerrilla . So far (by 2007) the negotiations have not resulted in any settlement. France, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and the United States (who act as the members of the United Nations and the OSCE) continue to encourage a comprehensive settlement consistent with Georgian independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The UN observer force and other organizations are quietly encouraging grassroots cooperative and confidence-building measures in the region.
The parliament has instituted wideranging political reforms supportive of higher human rights standards, because between 1992 and 2003 (before the Rose Revolution of November 23, 2003) the Georgian human rights situation had been complicated. Despite the reforms by the new government, there are still numerous problems concerning respect for human rights in the country Prisoners are frequently maltreated, journalists are intimidated by the authorities and much of the mainstream media is owned by government supporters. The police are often accused of planting evidence, beatings and the unnecessary killing of suspects.
The head of the Cabinet of Georgia
is the President
, who is elected for a term of five years. His constitutional successor is the Chairman of the Parliament. The president appoints a Prime Minister
|20 January 2008
|22 November 2007
See also the List of Georgian rulers
The Parliament of Georgia
(Sak'art'velos Parlamenti), also know as the Umaghlesi Sabcho (Supreme Council) has 235 members, elected for a four year term - 150 seats by proportional representation
, 75 in single-seat constituencies and 10 given to the representatives of the displaced persons from the separatist region of Abkhazia. However this situation will change when the next elections are held (likely to be 2008
). According to the constitutional amendments passed in 2003 the parliament will consist of only 150 members elected with the proportional representation system and will be fully refurbished.
The Speaker of Parliament
is Nino Burjanadze
Political parties and elections
Georgia has a Supreme Court, with judges elected by the Parliament on the president's recommendation, and a Constitutional Court.
Georgia is divided into 53 districts (raions), 11 cities*, and 2 autonomous republics** (
- Autonomous republics: Abkhazia, Ajaria.
- Cities: Batumi, Chiatura, Gori, Kutaisi, Poti, Rustavi, Sukhumi, Tbilisi, Tkibuli, Tskhinvali, Tskaltubo.
- Districts: Abasha, Adigeni, Akhalgori, Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe, Akhmeta, Ambrolauri, Aspindza, Baghdati, Bolnisi, Borjomi, Chkhorotsku, Chokhatauri, Dedoplistskaro, Dmanisi, Dusheti, Gardabani, Gurjaani, Java, Kareli, Kaspi, Kharagauli, Khashuri, Khobi, Khoni, Lagodekhi, Lanchkhuti, Lentekhi, Marneuli, Martvili, Mestia, Mtskheta, Ninotsminda, Oni, Ozurgeti, Kazbegi, Kvareli, Sachkhere, Sagarejo, Samtredia, Senaki, Sighnaghi, Telavi, Terjola, Tetritskaro, Tianeti, Tsageri, Tsalenjikha, Tsalka, Vani, Zestaponi, Zugdidi*note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
International organization participation
, Council of Europe
, International Chamber of Commerce
, International Criminal Court
, International Maritime Organization