Who are all these people? 17 parties and blocs contest elections in Georgia.

Fifteen political parties and two blocs have been registered to contest the parliamentary elections in Georgia on 1 October. They have now also submitted their list of candidates to the Central Elections Commission.

I8 parties who started the process of registration have not been registered. According to the Central Elections Commission of Georgia six withdrew at their own request, six did not submit a list of supporters as they are required to do by law, and six submitted incomplete or inaccurate documentation. None of those refused registration constitute a major political force and the CEC is deemed to have acted according to the law with regards to the registration process.

A question often asked by those who do not follow Georgian politics often is who are all these people? Why do many of these parties appear only during election time?

The appearance of satellite parties is not a purely Georgian phenomena, but has been a feature in a number of other post Soviet countries over the last two decades. Its origin is in the Soviet system which at teams, in an effort to show diversity created fake parties that ran symbolically for elections. The whole process was carefully manipulated by the Communist Party. Old habits die hard and some of the post soviet political parties, even those professing to be democratic and liberal, saw benefit in having satellite parties. This was particularly useful for entrenched ruling parties that wanted to dilute the impact or importance of the real opposition parties, but opposition parties have resorted to this tactic also. Political parties during elections are supposed to be treated equally, so they get free air time, may be eligible for some election funding, but perhaps more importantly are able to participate in the election process by having representatives within the polling stations. Phantom  political parties are therefore sometimes vehicles for election fraud. Sometimes parties are registered with names similar to a main rival to confuse the voters. There is little evidence that this tactic works, but amazingly it is still used often.

In Georgia some of these trends exist – some have even been developed to sophisticated levels. Also a number of parties have glorious historical roots, but current perspectives. So parties appear on the eve of elections and then go dormant for five years, until they are next called to their mission.

The 15 political parties and two blocs registered for the 1 October Parliamentary elections in Georgia are:

1. “Justice for Georgia”

2. “Freedom – The Way of Zviad Gamsakhurdia”

3. “Our Country”

4. Political Union “Jondi Baghaturia – Georgian Group”

5. Political Union “New Rights”

6. “Merab Kostava Society”

7. “Future Georgia”

8. “Labour Council of Georgia”

9. “Bidzina Ivanishvili – Georgian Dream”

10. “National Democratic Party”

11. Political Union “Kakha Kukava – Free Georgia”

12. “Public Movement”

13. “Giorgi Targamadze – Christian-Democratic Union”

14. “United National Movement – More Benefits to People”

15. “Shalva Natelashvili – Labour Party of Georgia”

16. “People’s Party”

17. “Georgian Sportsmen’s Community”

This report is prepared by the CEW editorial team. Names of parties and data on registration are taken according to information from the Central Elections Commission of Georgia.