Development of local governance in Tbilisi
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, October 27Overview of municipal elections since 1990ies
The elections of self-governing cities are one of the biggest events in the country's political life. This is a tool for the decentralization of political power, which is one of the key points of democracy. Starting from 1991 to 2017, seven local government elections were held in Georgia.
The first local government elections were summoned in 1991. At that time, the local government elections were held together with the referendum on Georgia’s independence, without defining the legislative regulation on local government prior to it.
The second local government elections took place in 1998 and structuring self-governance bodies started from 1998. As a result, an institution of the city council was established and people could directly elect city council members. On November 15, 258 095 voters (38.8%), from registered 664 273, have elected 55 members of Tbilisi Council.
The parties, which became members of the City Council were:
• Union of Citizens of Georgia- 20 members;
• Labor Party of Georgia – 12 members;
• Socialist party of Georgia- 9 members;
• Democratic Union for revival - 4 members;
• People's party- 4 members;
• Union of Georgian traditionalists- 3 members;
• National Democratic party - 3 members.
From 2002, Mayors of every city, except Tbilisi and Poti, were elected by the population directly. Mayor of Poti and Tbilisi were appointed by the President of Georgia. After regaining the independence, this was the first time in Georgia when the population could elect Mayors of cities by direct voting.
In 2002, the residents of Tbilisi elected members of the Council. At that time, Union of Citizens of Georgia could not overcome a 2.5% threshold failing to receive seats in the City Council. The Labor party got 26% of the votes and the block formed from the United National Movement, Republican Party of Georgia and Conservative Party of Georgia, got 24 % of votes.
After reforms in 2005, only two types of self-governing units were defined by law: a Unity of settlements – municipality and a self-governing city.
Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Poti received the status of self-governing cities, but the population still could not elect Mayors directly for these cities. Instead, the citizens could vote for 37 members of City Councils. 25 of them were majoritarian and 12 members had proportional mandates. Similar to previous years, the election turnout was low. From 889 905 registered voters, only 34.5%, 306 989 voters, took part in the 2006 elections. The UNM received all of 25 majoritarian mandates. From 12 proportional mandates, the UNM got 9 mandates, other three political parties Industrial party, Labor party and Republican Party all received 1 seat each.
On December 28, 2009, the Parliament of Georgia approved the legislative amendments, which envisaged direct elections of Mayor in Tbilisi. To win the first round, a candidate had to gain 30% of votes. The number of City Council members had changed as well. Instead of 37, the residents of Tbilisi had to elect 50 members of the Council. On May 30, 2010, the first direct election of Tbilisi Mayor was held. 451 381 citizens took part in the election, which amounted to 45.6 % of the registered voters in Tbilisi. 248 936 (55.15%) voted for the candidate of the United National Movement - Giorgi Ugulava, while 85 852 (19.02%) voted for Irakli Alasania, a candidate of Alliance for Georgia.
In 2014, 44% of the registered population took part in elections of Tbilisi Mayor. At this time, the minimum vote margin to win the elections in the first round was 50%+. In the first round, a candidate of the Georgian Dream (GD) David Narmania received 151 474 (46.12% of) votes, a candidate of the UNM, Nika Melia got 91 621 (27.9 % of) votes. In the second round, Narmania received 222 081 votes (72.47%) and Melia gained only 84 345 votes (27.53%).
October 21, this year was a culmination of the long pre-election political process. On this day voters cast their votes to elect 2058 members of 64 city councils and 64 Mayors. The voter turnout was 45.65% (1 570 563 voters).
The biggest city with the number of 943 423 registered voters was Tbilisi, but only 43.4%, 409 763 of the city residents took part in the elections. The elected candidate Kakha Kaladze from Georgian Dream (GD) received 204 061 votes, which is 49.79% of the electorate who took part in Tbilisi Mayoral elections, but considering the fact that 10 577 votes were annulled due to various reasons, Kaladze received 51.12% of the counted 399 186 votes.
An independent candidate Aleko Elisashvili came second by receiving 17.49% (69803 votes). The UNM candidate Zaal Udumashvili received - 61049 votes, which is 16.55% of the overall number of voters. Elene Khoshtaria from European Georgia received 28417 votes, 7.12%. Irma Inashvili from the Alliance Patriots of Georgia got 3.02 %, 12070 votes. Giorgi Vashadze, from the Unity - New Georgia received 1.95%, 7774 votes and Kakha Kukava from the Democratic Movement-Free Georgia got 1.26%, 5014 votes.
Table N1. GD and UNM candidates’ participation for the past three elections