The Veiled Influence of Illiberal Groups on Georgian Politics

Nino Gozalishvili[1]

[This publication was produced with the financial support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation. The views, opinions and statements expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs only and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foundation. Therefore, the Open Society Georgia Foundation is not responsible for the content of the information material].

Over the past several years Georgia has witnessed an increase in the public presence of far-right groups both in the media and across the political spectrum. Nativist attitudes, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigration rhetoric, and direct appeals to the Orthodox church are the main points of convergence for these illiberal actors who range from moderate to extreme. They are also represented in social media outlets and social movements with transforming organizational structures and changing key actors. While the prominent party—Alliance of Patriots of Georgia(APG)—has received fewer votes through the recent parliamentary elections than it did in 2016, and other parties with the similar profile did not enter the new parliament, they remain relevant for the country’s social and political scenes because of their rather indirect influences on Georgian politics. 

It is often argued that these groups are largely absent from the official politics in Georgia. Only the Alliance of Patriots (previously with 6 and currently with 4 acquired parliamentary mandates) has some representation in legislative and executive bodies. As seen during the 2020 parliamentary elections, such actors do not enjoy electoral success despite being widely present across electoral lists.  The reason these far-right groups matter is because they have been affecting political processes via lobbying and influencing policy proposals and legislative amendments. They test the limits of constitutional guarantees on freedom of expression and assembly, and impact public opinion via their increased public presence and intensified online activities.

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