Georgian parliamentary elections 2016 - Gender and ethnic minority representation on party lists
The results of the 2016 Parliamentary elections in Georgia reveal some interesting patterns about the representation of women and ethnic minorities in Georgian politics. In the run-up to the election, lawmakers considered instituting gender quotas to come closer to the United Nations’ target of 30% of seats in parliament filled by women. Civil society organizations also lamented low ethnic minority participation in elections in Georgia. In this election cycle, women won 24 out of 150 seats (16.0%) in the upcoming parliament, and ethnic minority candidates won 11 seats (7.3%). While these figures still fall well short of international recommendations, Georgia’s next parliament will have the highest share of women and ethnic minorities that it ever has.
However, substantial roadblocks to the inclusion of women and ethnic minorities in electoral politics still exist. After the 2012 elections, the European Center for Minority Issues assessed party list composition as one of the major factors preventing women and representatives of ethnic minorities from being represented fairly in the parliament of Georgia. The infographic below shows the top six vote-getting parties in the 2016 election, ranked by shares of women and representatives of ethnic minorities on their party lists.
Not surprisingly, in the two parties that are led by women (Nino Burjanadze - Democratic Movement and the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, chaired by Irma Inashvili), women tend to be better represented throughout the entire list, in spite of the fact that these two parties are generally seen as conservative by international observers. Importantly, the party that won a constitutional majority, the Georgian Dream (GD), had the lowest share of women on its party list (11.6%) of the top six parties. However, female candidates’ average number on the GD party list was 14 positions higher than that of male candidates (respectively, 65.7 and 79.7).
In terms of ethnic minorities, the upcoming parliament will include representatives of several ethnic groups, including Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Ossetians, Abkhaz, and Yezidis. Of the top six parties, the United National Movement (UNM) had the most ethnic minorities on its list, including Samira Ismailova, the first Azerbaijani female majoritarian candidate in Georgia’s history. Election results show that GD and UNM are still dominant in districts heavily populated by ethnic minorities, although a few other parties have made efforts to include similar or even greater shares of ethnic minority candidates on their party lists.
To explore this subject further, take a look at our Online Data Analysis platform, which has a number of surveys which asked about attitudes towards ethnic minority and gender representation in parliament. Also, take a look at CRRC blog posts on the representation of women in Georgia’s parliament compared to Armenia and Azerbaijan and public opinion about women in parliament in Georgia.
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]
The blog analyzes if the special precinct really mattered for the Sagarejo by-elections or wether it was the ethnic voting patterns, which explain the differences.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.
But what do people want?
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
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Talk about political polarisation in Georgia is easy to find. Some have suggested that the recent United National Movement (UNM) announcement that Saakashvili will be their prime ministerial candidate will only make matters worse.
A new data analysis CRRC Georgia released on Tuesday suggests that this may in fact be the case. Data from several years of CRRC Georgia and NDI polling indicates that there are few ideological or policy issues that the supporters of Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) disagree about. Rather, attitudes towards politicians and political events are what divides, a fact the public intuitively recognises.
Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.
CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%).
While personality in politics matters greatly for the Georgian public, data from this year shows that for Georgian Dream and United National Movement voters, policy is still important.
A recent CRRC Georgia policy brief argued that what was really dividing Georgians politically was personalities rather than policies. Data from the August 2020 CRRC and NDI survey provides further evidence for this idea.
However, the data also shows a difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) voters in terms of policy preferences and that economic policy is the most important issue for a plurality of voters.
With the pandemic still raging and accompanying economic restrictions still in force, Georgians are unsurprisingly pessimistic about their economic future. This holds true especially for supporters of the opposition United National Movement Party, above all other party supporters.
COVID-19 restrictions have impacted people’s economic activity heavily. This is reflected in key economic indicators such as GDP, which declined by 5.9% year on year between January and November 2020.
It is also reflected in employment, with fewer people reporting starting new jobs and more people reporting having lost one, according to the 2020 Caucasus Barometer.