One year ahead of parliamentary elections, and when insider knowledge from Brussels is indicating that granting candidate status to Georgia looks an increasingly realistic possibility (რადიო თავისუფლება 2023), the ruling party is distancing itself from the European political family. It has left the Party of European Socialists (ქართული ოცნება 2023) and is using confrontational rhetoric against the friends of Georgia among European politicians, putting the chance of the country’s successful European integration process at risk. It is against this background that the ruling party faces a fight at the 2024 election for an unprecedented 4th term. However, according to a number of public opinion polls, support for the Georgian Dream (GD) party has decreased significantly during recent years (CRRC 2023; 2022).
The ruling party is changing its ideological vector and turning to populist conservatism. It seems that against the backdrop of decreasing public support GD maybe considering using populism disguised as conservatism in its new pre-election campaign. The speech of Georgia’s Prime Minister in May 2023 at a Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary (CPAC Hungary 2023) epitomised this change. This policy memo discusses GD’s latest ideological shift to form a populist strategy in order to maintain power, adopting it amidst decreasing support and worsening foreign relations.