A Look Beyond the Red Lines in Georgian Politics: 5 Major Risks Following the Annulment of the April 19 Agreement
Risks to the Internal Politics of Georgia
Two major threats can be identified when it comes to the internal risks for Georgia. The first is related to the local self-government elections scheduled for October 2; the importance of the elections was largely determined by one of the clauses of the document, according to which, early parliamentary elections shall be called in 2022 if the Georgian Dream party receives less than 43% of valid proportional votes. There are several political and pandemic-related factors that put the potential election results of Georgian Dream party under threat. The aforementioned might be one of the main reasons behind the ruling party’s decision to withdrew from the EU-brokered agreement, leaving the promise of the 43% threshold for the local elections to the “party’s goodwill”.
Therefore, the annulment of the April 19 Agreement will most probably lead to a tenser and more aggressive pre-election environment, with election day itself probably proving to be volatile, which makes the prospect of truly democratic elections less realistic. Consequently, there is a significant chance that the legitimacy of the election results will be questioned and political crises in Georgia will continue for a long time, which will further impede the process of building democratic institutions and working on the country’s political and social issues.
The second risk that needs to be addressed is an increased danger that the ruling Georgian Dream party will try to monopolize the reform processes following its withdrawal from the April 19 agreement. The party leaders stated that they are still going to implement the aforementioned reforms beyond the agreement. However, there are substantial concerns regarding the absence of inter-party dialogue and domestic and international recommendations in the process.
This is especially noteworthy considering the fact that there were significant problems with the electoral and judiciary reforms, as well as working on the June 20th amnesty bill, even in the framework of the April 19 agreement. There are also some concerns regarding the power distribution among the political parties in the Georgian Parliament: for now, the ruling party is practically avoiding all of its responsibilities towards Brussels to implement the envisioned reforms fully based on democratic principles. Consequently, the withdrawal from the agreement creates more space for the ruling Georgian Dream party to exert one-party dominance over the political processes in the country.