Voter Turnout in Parliamentary Elections of Georgia: Dynamics and Geography

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
In the 21st century the majority of the post-communist countries of Europe experienced significant decrease of the voter turnout. Many experts believe that the electorate‟s growing absenteeism is conditioned by multiple factors including post-Communist demobilization, decline of political enthusiasm within society, weakness of civil society institutions, political stakes, deteriorated socio-economic situation, mass emigration, etc. During its post-Soviet history, Georgia, being a young democracy, had experienced a civil war, two ethno-political conflicts, invasion of the Russian army; it endured harsh socio-economic situation in the 1990s, mass emigration, and other dramatic developments. Nevertheless, its democratic development didn‟t discontinue. After changes in the Constitution in 2010 Georgia gradually became a parliamentary republic, therefore election of its major legislative body is crucial for the country‟s political system. Geographic study of voter turnout is one of the ways for understanding complicated political processes taking place in Georgia. Analyzing political and demographic developments affecting voter turnout in Georgia two periods could be singled out: the 1990s–2000s and the 2010s. First two decades of independence were characterized by a simultaneous decline of the number of population and the level of voter turnout; electoral activism dropped by about 14 percentage points (67.1% in 1990 and53.3% in 2008). Since 2008 turnout level varies from 53 to 61 percent points. It is significant that during the last four parliamentary elections (2008- 2012-2016-2020) turnout did not demonstrate steady decrease and amount of voters remained more or less stable. The main finding of the research is that a level of electoral activism in Georgia is determined by two main factors: political stakes and mass emigration. The research deals with following academic methods: collection-processing of the official data provided by Central Election Commission of Georgia, and its time-space analysis; review of academic works on the topic; GIS technologies for preparing and integrating maps through ESRI ArcGIS, and visual design of results – Adobe Illustrator.
voter turnout, parliamentary elections, Georgia, geographic patterns, factors of electoral activism