01/05/2024 GIP

Electoral Clientelism: A Key Barrier for Fair and Competitive Elections in Georgia



  • GIP
  • Levan Kakhishvili

    Levan Kakhishvili is a Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) and a doctoral fellow at the Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS) in Germany. Since October 2018, Mr. Kakhishvili is a DAAD scholar pursuing his doctoral research on political party competition in post-Soviet hybrid regimes. His field of expertise includes democratization, political parties, Georgia’s foreign policy with a focus on Georgian-Russian relations, and issues related to national identity, ethnic minorities and nationalism. Mr. Kakhishvili has obtained two Master’s degrees: MSc in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford, St Antony’s College and MSocSc in Transformation in South Caucasus from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. During 2015-2018, as an invited lecturer, he has taught various courses related to political science at the International Black Sea University, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, and Georgian Institute of Public Affairs.

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How are elections won in Georgia? Is it charismatic political leaders or policy debates that play a decisive role? This policy brief investigates the phenomenon of electoral clientelism in Georgia, which is a form of transactional politics. In other words, the exchange of tangible personal benefits provided by political parties for political support usually facilitated by electoral brokers. Although clientelism and the activities of brokers represent an open secret in Georgian elections, analysis of clientelism in Georgia has been rather lacking. This brief argues that electoral clientelism plays a crucial role in winning elections in Georgia, which makes it an important challenge for the development of Georgian democracy, and one that requires urgent attention in the context of the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections.

Key Words: Elections, Electoral clientelism, Political parties, Democracy.

Policy Brief #57 | April 2024

This publication has been produced with the generous support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Georgian Institute of Politics and the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia.


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