How many political parties are there in Georgia?

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

I was leaving a bookstore/coffee house and saw that about a 1,000 demonstrators had filled Rustaveli Ave, the main street in downtown Tbilisi. I took this photo and then went to the Web in order to learn more.

The National Forum, an opposition political party, asked the public to participate in a “March of Georgians.” The march was held to protest “the domestic and foreign policies pursued by Saakashvili, [the] Americanization of Georgia and impoverishing the population.” The banner reads: “For Mother Tongue” because the National Forum believes President Saakashvili has a policy of downgrading the importance of the Georgian language.

I’m not sure what that means, but perhaps the National Forum is protesting Saakashvili’s hiring of 1,500 English teachers. A recent USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate is one of those 1,500 teachers. Evan Lohmann (class of 2011), currently teaches English in Gori.

The National Forum chose September 27 because on that date eighteen years ago Georgia lost control over one of its most beautiful regions. Abkhaz forces, along with allies from Russia, seized the Abkhaz capital Sokhumi. Abkazia is on the northwest coast of the Black Sea and was the number one tourist destination for members of the Soviet Union. Tourists could ski in the mountains and swim in the lake on the same day.

About six months ago, three political parties united into a bloc called the National Forum. The “People’s Forum”, “Union of Traditionalists” and “Women’s Party” share common views on socio-economic issues. The block, however, does not plan to take part in elections and it will probably not make any significant changes in Georgia’s political landscape.

In the last parliamentary elections (2008), Saakashvili’s party, United National Movement – for Victorious Georgia, gained 59% of the vote. Four opposition parties shared the remaining seats. Based on my research, it seems that Georgia has at least 40 political parties. The National Forum is near the bottom of the list in terms of popularity.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

One Response to How many political parties are there in Georgia?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I assume they closed the dreaded (“never again”) road for the demonstration, otherwise, how could they fit 1000 people on that little section in the middle of the highway?

    You should have grabbed Susanna and gone shopping.

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