Yet these principles are tested at each political crossroads,” the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a Washington-based NGO that works to support democracy around the world, said in a statement last month.“If Georgia’s democratic future is thwarted, the impact on the broader region would be profound.” The Georgian Dream six-party coalition won the last parliamentary elections in 2012 with 54.97 per cent of the votes and currently has 82 seats.Unemployment stood at 12 per cent in 2015, according to the National Statistics Office of Georgia.
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Its founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman and former prime minister, holds no formal office but still wields great influence.
The core Georgian Dream party alone holds 44 seats.
“There are two main forces – clearly pro-Western [or] neutral in relation to Russia,” said Kornely Kakachia, director of the Georgian Institute of Politics.
“But there is also a third side, openly pro-Russian forces, which could get into parliament, especially if they unite and create an alliance.”.
According to a public opinion poll by NDI for the Centre for Research Resources of the Caucasus (CRRC) in March, 61 per cent of respondents said they had not decided who to vote for.
Fifteen per cent said they would support the Georgian Dream coalition and 13 per cent the UNM.
Some experts have argued that a significant share of support for Georgian Dream and other parties in the 2012 elections was due to a protest vote against the then ruling UNM.
This was exacerbated by a scandal over the torture of prisoners in Georgian jails shortly before the election. Some of the electorate has since been disappointed by the Georgian Dream’s performance, while remaining disenchanted with the UNM.
Analysts say that this could not only lead to previously unseen political alliances but also domestic unrest in a country still working on strengthening its democratic institutions.
“Georgians have thus far held fast to their commitments to independence, prosperity, and democracy.
“Domestically, Georgians’ high and growing expectations of their leaders and institutions have not been fully met,” the NDI said in a pre-election assessment.