No doubt political analysts in Georgia and beyond will for some time be analyzing the results of the Georgian parliamentary elections to ask what exactly happened that saw such a dramatic swing in favour of the opposition, and why the party of President Saakashvili was so heavily punished by the Georgian voters.
There are however other issues that are going to require further study. Two maps published originally by the leading Georgian news portal civil.ge – the first port of call for many who want to keep in touch with Georgian affairs – show the distribution of seats and votes in the election. They tell an important story.
The blue heartland and red borderlands denote a political faultline that has to some extent always existed in Georgia. It is however of some concern that it continues to define Georgian politics. For some time it had become clear that President Saakashvili had lost the support of the people of Tbilisi who found his style of government patronizing and arrogant at best. The trend in the last year extended to other parts of the Georgian heartlands in Imereti, Guria and beyond. As the poll showed in the end most Georgian cities voted for the opposition.
The United National Movement retained strong support in Western Georgia and in areas compactly populated by Georgia’s large Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnic minorities. It is possible to dismiss the latter to the usual pressure traditionally exerted by the party in government on national minorities, which secures the bulk of their vote.
But in truth the Georgian Dream has also failed to reach out properly to national minority communities. This is a problem that it is going to have to address sooner rather than later. Bidhzina Ivanishvili has, in all his major pre election speeches made references to the national minorities and their place in Georgian society. He must now put these words into reality.
Whilst it is good to see the Georgian political map in different colours, it is in Georgia’s interest to have these colours more evenly distributed.
source: CEW editorial team