On October 30, the second round of parliamentary elections took place in Georgia.
Students from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs conducted interviews in Districts 18 and 19 in Tbilisi with voters who chose Patriot Alliance candidates in the first round on October 8. Second rounds were held in districts where no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. In these districts the Patriot Alliance candidates did not finish in the top two and were not on the ballot for the second round.
According to PA’s official website www.patriots.ge the state registration of the party became official on January 22, 2013. The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia is a “center-right political party, which aims to promote in society moderate conservative ideology, Georgian spirit, culture and traditions, as well as democratic values.”
Which candidate did Patriot Alliance voters select in the second round? Do the respondents positively think about Patriot Alliance earning six seats in the Parliament? What is the attraction of Alliance of Patriots?
Reporters interviewed 20 people, 11 of whom said they voted for Patriot Alliance in the first round, and 17 of whom said they would vote for Georgian Dream in the second round. All 17 voters of those voters positively assessed the presence of Patriot Alliance in parliament, and 16 wished they could have more seats. Not a single voter from that 20 said they voted for the United National Movement Party.
Some of these people think that voters' trust in The Patriot Alliance is connected with accusations of National Movement criminal affairs. This explains why they voted for Georgian Dream in the second round.
“The PA fought more strongly to punish criminals than the government. That’s why they have voters' trust,” said 42-year-old Mamuka Lomidze.
Mamuka Chokhonelidze, 50, also underlined the connection between UNM crime accusations and Patriot Alliance voters. “The Patriot Alliance deserved voters’ sympathy because they struggled with National Movement at the end. They didn’t play two games or lie to people about cohabitation (with other parties) or other stupid things”.
Some answers showed that the source of Patriot Alliance support is rooted in their patriotic approach. “I love Patriot Alliance with my whole heart and soul. Irma Inashvili and Davit Tarkhanmouravi are the biggest patriots. I rely on them,” said 74-year-old Gulsunda Razmadze.
Giorgi Monaselidze, a 30-year-old builder, shared a different viewpoint: “In my opinion, PA didn’t even expect that they would enter the Parliament, but they became known through their good affairs. However, there is another theory that (Georgian Dream) government let them win -- that they work together like mafia.”
Some respondents didn’t take PA seriously and were surprised by their success. For example, 33-year-old actress Anna Tkhebuchava said she strongly opposed PA, but claimed that they entertain her: “Personally, I have no problems with them, but I can’t perceive them as politicians. I found out about them through funny videos on Facebook and was very surprised when they entered the Parliament as the third party, as they have done nothing. Parliament is for experienced people.”
The attitude of several voters was favorable towards PA’s Parliament entrance. Nana Maisuradze, a 57-year-old English teacher, said she welcomes PA as the third party in Parliament and thinks that they should have more seats: “They didn’t insult any political party during pre-election campaign. This fact attracted public attention and earned them trust. In future they will have more votes.”
According to some political experts, the pro-Russian inclinations of PA before the Parliament elections were obvious. An expert from the Fund of Strategically Researchers and International Relations of Georgia, Nodar Kharshiladze told Ekhokavkaza.com that PA is an anti-Western party, and in the Parliament it will support a continuation of policies of Georgian Dream with more radical approaches. "And this will affect negatively the development of the country," said Kharshiladze.
There are other experts like political analytic Korneli Kakachia who said to Ekhokavkaza.com that the success of PA was not coincidence. He believes that Georgian people's sympathy toward Russia is increasing and PA offers some positive relations with the country’s northern neighbor. According to Kakachia, PA has very good financial recourses; some top party officials are millionaires. “Besides that, they have their own TV channel “Objective” and they used it very effectively,” said Kakachia.
After the first round of elections, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said that PA received 88,097 votes (5.01%), just enough to earn six seats in Parliament.
The second round of elections was hold in 50 of Georgia’s 73 districts. PA had no candidates in Sunday's elections. Mostly Georgian Dream and National Party candidates were competing with each other.
At 2 a.m. Monday, the CEC declared final results. Mikheil Kavalishvili from Georgian Dream party won the elections in the 18thdistrict. Another member of Georgian Dream, Zaza Gabunia, was elected from the 19th district.