The elections for the 5th Convocation of the Parliament of Georgia took place on 31 October 1999 and 14 November 1999. The elections were won by the ruling Citizens Union of Georgia (CUG) of President Eduard Shevardnadze, which received 41.75% of the proportional vote. Its main rival from the autonomous republic of Adjara, the Revival of Georgia bloc, got nearly 27% of the vote.
The Citizens Union claimed a majority in parliament by also winning a major portion of the single-mandate districts. Only three parties managed to pass the 7% threshold. Nineteen parties and twelve electoral blocs participated in the elections.
The elections were scheduled to take place on 31 October 1999, the last Saturday of October as stipulated in the constitution. A second round was scheduled on 14 November 1999 for run-off elections in single mandate constituencies if required when none of the candidates in a constituency would have passed the one-third threshold.1OSCE, Georgia Parliamentary Elections 31 October & 14 November 1999 – Final Report, (2000): p3.
According to the Georgian law the parliament had a size of 235 deputies. These were elected through a mixed electoral system in which 150 deputies were elected through proportional representation according to party lists and 85 deputies were to be elected through single-mandate constituencies.2Legislative Herald of Georgia, Law for the election of the Parliament of Georgia, No.790, (9 September 1995), article 1.2. Elections could not take place in Abkhazia and parts of South Ossetia.
For the proportional representation a 7% threshold was maintained. Prior to the elections the threshold was raised from 5% to 7%,3Legislative Herald of Georgia, Amendments to the Election law of the Parliament of Georgia, No.2248, (20 July 1999), bullet 7a, concerning Article 54.6. which was according to the OSCE unusually high among its members.4OSCE, (2000): p4. To determine whether a party reached the electoral threshold, the percentage was calculated over all cast votes, including the invalid ones. For the single-mandate districts a 33% threshold (one-third) was applied for winning the district in the first round. A second round was to be held when none of the candidates passed the one-third vote share. Second rounds were planned for 14 November 1999. The single-mandate constituencies ranged in size from 4,000 to 135,000 registered voters, causing an unequal vote weight, as the OSCE reported. This disparity was only fixed prior the 2016 election.
By electoral law eight seats of the parliament were reserved for single-mandate constituencies in Abkhazia.5Legislative Herald of Georgia, Single-mandate constituencies for the elections of the Parliament of Georgia, Commission Resolution No. 21/1999, (4 August 1999), appendix. Since these districts could not participate in the elections, the law stipulated that the mandates of the MPs elected in 1992 from Abkhazia were automatically extended. This concerned in total twelve MPs, including four who elected through party lists.6Darrell Slider, “Recent Elections in Georgia: At Long Last, Stability?” (pdf), Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 8, no. 4 (Fall 2000): p519. However, this brought the total number of allocated seats to 239, four more than the constitution provided for. The OSCE noted this discrepancy and reported in their election observation report that the Central Election Commission referred this problem to the new parliament.7OSCE, (2000): p26.
Furthermore, four single-mandate constituencies were in South Ossetia, namely the districts of Java, Tskhinvali City, Akhalgori and the newly created Liakhvi district to cover for the Kurta and Eredvi communities under Georgian control. These communities officially resided under the Gori district, but were not in the situation to be administered from there.8Legislative Herald of Georgia, Doc. No.21/1999, Single-mandate constituencies. The elections did not take place in Java and Tskhinvali and these seats remained vacant. They were effectively taken up by two Abkhaz MPs that were officially in excess. To facilitate the two other Abkhazian MPs, the single-mandate constituencies of Martvili and Khobi were combined as well as the Ozurgeti and Lanchkhuti constituencies (see appendix 2). Thus in 73 electoral constituencies the single-mandate races were held.
Initially, more than 50 parties and electoral blocs applied to the Central Election Commission to participate in the elections,9OSCE, (2000): p12. but after cancellations by the election authorities 20 parties and 13 blocs were on the ballot.10Publika, History of parliamentary elections, (2020), accessed 19 December 2022. The fierce campaign, according to the OSCE, was evidence of political pluralism in Georgia, with a clear distinction between competing political interests, although the tone occasionally crossed the acceptable boundaries of political competition.11OSCE, (2000): p18. The campaign was accompanied by incidents of violence, including the shooting of a candidate.
The main contestants in the elections were the ruling Citizens Union of president Shevardnadze and the Revival bloc of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, also known as “Batumi Alliance”. Number two on the Revival list was Jumber Patiashvili, the former leader of the Georgian SSR (1985-1989) and contestant for the Georgian presidency in 1995 against Shevardnadze. The Revival bloc consisted of Abashidze’s Revival Party and four other parties with different political ideologies, sharing a pro-Russian (or “North-South realignment”) foreign policy vision. They emphasized improving relations with Russia and Turkey to restore control over the Abkhazia, while the Citizens Union and its reform minded group around Parliament Chair Zurab Zhvania had a distinct pro-western foreign policy position.12Slider, p524. The party placed nearly 50 young western-educated members on the list to convince voters the party was serious about continuing reforms and ending corruption. It emphasized a victory of Abashidze would “threaten Georgia’s statehood”.13Commission On Security And Cooperation In Europe, U. S. Helsinki Commission, Report On Georgia’s Parliamentary Elections: October 1999, (1999), accessed 19 December 2022. It fed the polarizing, hostile and at times violent campaign.
The new “Industry Will Save Georgia”, led by beer magnate Giorgi Topadze, formed a bloc with four other parties and ran a campaign on tax liberalization and other economic reforms. The U. S. Helsinki Commission noted that the nationalist message of the Industrialists “emphasized the need to protect Georgia’s industries from foreign competition”. The bloc argued against the sale to foreigners of strategic assets such as energy stations and the Black Sea port of Poti. In general it opposed Western strictures on how to run Georgia’s economy, such as the IMF, the US noted.14U. S. Helsinki Commission, (1999).
The National Democratic Party was joined by the liberal Republican Party for the elections, profiling as “the third way”. The NDP originally proposed the 7% threshold, but failed itself to pass it with less than 5%, partly due to a split by the People’s Party.15Slider, p525-526.
The ruling Citizens Union of President Eduard Shevardnadze won the elections, obtaining a solid majority with 130 of 235 seats. The party received 41.75% of the national votes, followed by the Revival of Georgia bloc (“Batumi Alliance”) led by Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze which received 25% of the vote. Apart from the new Industry Will Save Georgia the other parties failed to clear the 7% electoral threshold. In 49 constituencies an MP was elected in the first round. Elections in dozens polling stations were annulled and had to be repeated prior to a second round. Most of the second round races in single-mandate constituencies were won by the Citizens Union. The elections in the Keda and Martvili constituencies were repeatedly cancelled and as result they were only first elected in Fall 2000, after the presidential elections.16OSCE, (2000): p28. By that time this resulted in 237 members of parliament, two above the legal size of the parliament according to the constitution. The OSCE warned for this scenario in its elections observation report,17OSCE, (2000): p26. but the issue remained unresolved for the duration of the 5th parliament.
The director of the Fair Elections organization, Nugzar Ivanidze, said the elections “can be called multi-party, but they weren’t democratic”.18IWPR, “Shevardnadze’s Citizens Top Abashidze’s Revivalists”, 4 November 1999, accessed December 2022. The overall turnout was 67.9%, slightly higher than in 1995. The officially recorded turnout varied in distinct pockets throughout the country. Most noteworthy was a turnout of more than 95% of the 254.000 registered voters in Adjara. The highest turnout (98.6%) was recorded in Marneuli district in the Kvemo Kartli region south of capital Tbilisi. In two other Kvemo Kartli districts turnouts around 90% were recorded. In other areas the turnout was not noteworthy higher than the average. Observers recorded most election fraud in Adjara.19OSCE, (2000): p21.
|Citizens Union of Georgia||890,915||41.75||85||45||130||+22|
|Revival of Georgia (“Batumi Alliance”)||537,297||25.18||51||7||58||+24|
|Industry Will Save Georgia||151,038||7.08||14||1||15||+15|
|Georgian Labour Party||140,595||6.59||0||2||2||+1|
|National Democratic Alliance “Third Way”||95,039||4.95||0||0||0||-35|
|United Communist Party||28,736||1.35||0||0||0||–|
|Georgian Party for the Protection of Veterans||11,708||0.55||0||0||0||–|
|Merab Kostava Society||10,357||0.49||0||0||0||–|
|Political Union Support||412||0.02||0||0||0||-3|
|Other parties and blocs2022 other parties and election blocs on the ballot received a total of 37,756 votes (or 1.77%). Twelve of these received less than 1000 votes. Five other parties elected in 1995 did not participate, amounting to -10 seats. The two vacant seats allocated to South Ossetian districts were effectively taken up by two Abkhazian MPs.||37,756||1.77||0||0||0||-12|
|Abkhazian deputies21Automatically extended mandate||–||12||12||–|
|Invalid/blank votes22The number was not officially released by the CEC but is calculated from the difference between total number of counted votes on parties (2,003,034) and the total number of cast votes (2,133,878). Major sources cite two different numbers: 130,837 and 130,844. This is caused by a difference of 3 votes for the United Communist Party (28,736 vs 28,739) and 4 for the Democratic Center (452 vs 456) resulting in a different total of counted votes (2,003,034 vs 2,003,041). The list above maintains the number of votes as documented by the Central Election Commission in their 2020 publication on the history of Georgian elections.||130,844||6.13|
|Total cast votes||2,133,878||100.00|
|Registered voters and turnout||3,143,851||67.87|
|Sources: CEC,23CEC, Electoral History of Georgia 1990-2018 (pdf), (2020): p113-121, Nohlen et al,24Nohlen, Dieter, Natalie Kuchinka‐Lančava, and Florian Grotz. “Georgia” Chapter in “Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: Volume I: Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia“: p371–406. Oxford University Press, 2001. OSCE,25 OSCE.25OSCE, (2000): p28.|
The elections were observed by roughly 2,500 domestic and nearly 200 OSCE observers. Among the 177 OSCE short-term observers were representatives of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, staff of embassies in Tbilisi and representatives of other international organizations. They visited more than 800 of the approximately 2,600 polling stations.26OSCE, (2000), p1. For the second round 35 observers were deployed by the OSCE. With 2,200 volunteers, the NGO International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) provided by far the largest share of Georgian observers.27OSCE, (2000), p20.
After the elections, the OSCE judged that the conduct of the elections were a step in the right direction of Georgia’s compliance with OSCE commitments, while adding that “the electoral process failed to fully deliver on all commitments”. Despite a generally positive view of the first round, the OSCE highlighted incidents of intimidation and violence during the campaign. The electoral law was further criticized for allowing the ruling party to “take a dominant position in the electoral administration at all levels”.28OSCE, (2000), p1.
The United States Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe released a report on the elections and stated that the “outcome did not indicate how tense the race had been between the CUG and the leftist, pro-Russian ‘Batumi Alliance'”.29U. S. Helsinki Commission, (1999). It said that a win by the latter would have threatened “to move Georgia into Russia’s orbit and away from market reforms”. The report also addressed that not all of the Central Election Commission members signed off on the elections:
“With such high stakes and relations so confrontational between the contending forces, charges of widespread fraud dogged the elections. Of the Central Election Commission’s 19 members, only 13 signed the document announcing the results. Nevertheless, OSCE’s observation mission called the first round of the election a “step towards” compliance with OSCE commitments, adding that most of the worst violations occurred in Ajaria. OSCE’s verdict after the November 14 second round was more critical, noting violence at some polling stations and vote rigging and intimidation at others. OSCE’s initial cautiously positive judgement, however, allowed Eduard Shevardnadze to claim that democratization is proceeding in Georgia and that the countrys admission to the Council of Europe was well deserved.“
1. Participating parties and electoral blocs
|Party / Bloc and list number||Votes||%|
|1||Citizens Union of Georgia||890,915||41.75|
|2||Bloc “Revival of Georgia” (“Batumi Alliance”)
|3||Georgian Labour Party||140,595||6.59|
|4||Bloc “National Democratic Alliance – Third Way”
|5||Bloc “People’s Didgori”
|6||Bloc “People’s Front-Chavchavadze Society”
|7||Bloc “Industry Will Save Georgia”
|8||Bloc “United National Movement”
|9||Green Party of Georgia||11,400||0.53|
|10||Freedom Party of Georgia||828||0.04|
|12||Party of Economically and Socially Deprived People in Georgia||2,171||0.10|
|13||Political Union “Support”||412||0.02|
|14||People’s Democratic Party||1,917||0.09|
|15||Bloc “Victorious Georgia – God’s Cathedral”
|17||Georgian Party for the Protection of Veterans||11,708||0.55|
|18||National Ideology Party of Georgia||529||0.02|
|20||Christian Democratic Union of Georgia||2,951||0.14|
|22||Political Union of Citizens “Lecturers’ Union of Georgia”||643||0.03|
|23||Political Union of Citizens – All-Georgian Farmers Union||333||0.02|
|24||Merab Kostava Society||10,357||0.49|
|26||Union of Social Justice of Georgia||1,200||0.06|
|29||Bloc “United Communist Party (Stalinist) and Workers Councils”
|30||Union of Georgian Nationalists||555||0.03|
|31||Bloc “XXI Century – Georgian Nationalism” Bloc
|35||Davit Aghmashenebeli Party||758||0.04|
|37||Bloc “Communists – Stalinists”
|39||Bloc “National Concord Party of Georgia”
|40||Bloc “Round Table – Free Georgia”
|41||Political Movement “The Fate of Georgia”||419||0.02|
|42||Intellectuals League of Georgia||344||0.02|
|43||Nationalist Party of Georgia||593||0.03|
|45||Bloc “Revived Communists and People’s Patriots”
|Total cast votes||2,133,878||100.00|
|Registered voters and turnout||3,143,851||67.87|
|Source: CEC1CEC, Electoral History of Georgia 1990-2018: 113-121, Nohlen et al.2Nohlen (2001)|
2. Elected members of Parliament
150 Members of parliament were elected through proportional representation via the party-lists in the national constituency. 73 members were elected by single-mandate constituencies and 12 mandates were automatically extended (Abkhazia). The following table gives all MPs confirmed by resolution at the first session of 20 November 1999, while two others were confirmed on 7 December 1999 due to repeat single-mandate elections. This list is a snapshot only. Due to subsequent early terminations various changes occurred which are not reflected in this list, either through the party-list or single-mandate by-elections depending on the terminated mandate.
|National constituency party-list MPs|
|1||Adeishvili, Zurab||Citizens Union of Georgia (85)|
|86||Abashidze, Aslan||Revival of Georgia (51)|
|87||Abashidze, Dali3Immediately joined faction of Citizens Union|
|137||Bakuradze, Jambul||Industry Will Save Georgia (14)|
|1||Gogelia, Archil||Citizens||Tbilisi – Mtatsminda||1|
|2||Saakashvili, Mikheil||Citizens||Tbilisi – Vake||2|
|3||Adamia, Revaz||Citizens||Tbilisi – Saburtalo||3|
|4||Liparteliani, Gogi||Independent||Tbilisi – Krtsani||4|
|5||Karkarashvili, Giorgi||Independent||Tbilisi – Isani||5|
|6||Jakeli, Giorgi||Citizens||Tbilisi – Samgori||6|
|7||Ghughunishvili, Zezva||Citizens||Tbilisi – Chugureti||7|
|8||Baramidze, Giorgi||Citizens||Tbilisi – Didube||8|
|9||Samadashvili, Merab||Independent||Tbilisi – Nadzaladevi||9|
|10||Giorgadze, Tamaz||Citizens||Tbilisi – Gldani||10|
|Note: The single-mandate elections in the Keda and Martvili constituencies were eventually cancelled and repeat elections were scheduled after the presidential elections of 2000.4OSCE (2000), p28 Arsen Mgeladze (Revival) and Fridon Injia (Labour) were subsequently elected in by-elections in Fall 2000, which brought the total number of MPs to 237, above the constitutional limit. The OSCE reported this possibility in the election observation report as a legal conflict.|
|Abkhazian representatives elected in 1992|
|Sources: Parliament Resolution Doc No.3,5Legal Herald of Georgia, Doc No.3 Declaration of authority of the members of the Parliament of Georgia, 20 November 1999. Doc No.21/1999,6Legal Herald of Georgia, Doc No.21/1999 Single-mandate constituencies (1999). and Parliament website.7Parliament of Georgia, members of the 5th Convocation.|
Note: in all eight constituencies of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia the elections could not take place. These were: Sukhumi City (#71), Gagra (#72), Gali (#73), Gudauta (#74), Gulripshi (#75), Ochamchire (#76), Sukhumi district (#77) and Tkvarcheli (#78). Also in the South Ossetian districts Tskhinvali City (#42) and Java (#34) the elections could not take place. The mandates of twelve Abkhazian MPs elected in 1992 were automatically extended.
References and footnotes
- 1OSCE, Georgia Parliamentary Elections 31 October & 14 November 1999 – Final Report, (2000): p3.
- 2Legislative Herald of Georgia, Law for the election of the Parliament of Georgia, No.790, (9 September 1995), article 1.2.
- 3Legislative Herald of Georgia, Amendments to the Election law of the Parliament of Georgia, No.2248, (20 July 1999), bullet 7a, concerning Article 54.6.
- 4OSCE, (2000): p4.
- 5Legislative Herald of Georgia, Single-mandate constituencies for the elections of the Parliament of Georgia, Commission Resolution No. 21/1999, (4 August 1999), appendix.
- 6Darrell Slider, “Recent Elections in Georgia: At Long Last, Stability?” (pdf), Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 8, no. 4 (Fall 2000): p519.
- 7OSCE, (2000): p26.
- 8Legislative Herald of Georgia, Doc. No.21/1999, Single-mandate constituencies.
- 9OSCE, (2000): p12.
- 10Publika, History of parliamentary elections, (2020), accessed 19 December 2022.
- 11OSCE, (2000): p18.
- 12Slider, p524.
- 13Commission On Security And Cooperation In Europe, U. S. Helsinki Commission, Report On Georgia’s Parliamentary Elections: October 1999, (1999), accessed 19 December 2022.
- 14U. S. Helsinki Commission, (1999).
- 15Slider, p525-526.
- 16OSCE, (2000): p28.
- 17OSCE, (2000): p26.
- 18IWPR, “Shevardnadze’s Citizens Top Abashidze’s Revivalists”, 4 November 1999, accessed December 2022.
- 19OSCE, (2000): p21.
- 2022 other parties and election blocs on the ballot received a total of 37,756 votes (or 1.77%). Twelve of these received less than 1000 votes. Five other parties elected in 1995 did not participate, amounting to -10 seats. The two vacant seats allocated to South Ossetian districts were effectively taken up by two Abkhazian MPs.
- 21Automatically extended mandate
- 22The number was not officially released by the CEC but is calculated from the difference between total number of counted votes on parties (2,003,034) and the total number of cast votes (2,133,878). Major sources cite two different numbers: 130,837 and 130,844. This is caused by a difference of 3 votes for the United Communist Party (28,736 vs 28,739) and 4 for the Democratic Center (452 vs 456) resulting in a different total of counted votes (2,003,034 vs 2,003,041). The list above maintains the number of votes as documented by the Central Election Commission in their 2020 publication on the history of Georgian elections.
- 23CEC, Electoral History of Georgia 1990-2018 (pdf), (2020): p113-121
- 24Nohlen, Dieter, Natalie Kuchinka‐Lančava, and Florian Grotz. “Georgia” Chapter in “Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: Volume I: Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia“: p371–406. Oxford University Press, 2001.
- 25OSCE.25OSCE, (2000): p28.
- 26OSCE, (2000), p1.
- 27OSCE, (2000), p20.
- 28OSCE, (2000), p1.
- 29U. S. Helsinki Commission, (1999).