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Politics of Georgia

Georgia has been a democratic republic since the presidential elections and constitutional referendum of October 1995. The President is elected for a term of 5 years; his constitutional successor is the Chairman of the Parliament.

The Georgian state is highly centralized, except for the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and Ajaria, which are to be given special autonomous status once Georgia's territorial integrity is restored. Those regions were subjects of special autonomies during Soviet rule and the legacy of that influence remains. In most locations local elections took place on November 15, 1998, marking the first elections under the 1995 constitution. Candidates from 11 political parties and two political blocks presented candidates.

Political conditions
Since surviving assassination attempts in August 1995 and February 1998 by reactionary forces opposed to reform, President Shevardnadze has consolidated his leadership and moved ahead with an ambitious and courageous reform agenda. Elections on November 5, 1995, described as the freest and fairest in the Caucasus or Central Asia, gave him the presidency and resulted in a progressive parliament led by sophisticated reformers.

The Abkhaz separatist dispute absorbs much of the government's attention. While a cease-fire is in effect, more than 230,000 internally displaced persons[?] (IDPs) who were driven from their homes during the conflict constitute a vocal lobby. The government has offered the region considerable autonomy in order to encourage a settlement that would allow the IDPs, the majority of whom are ethnic Georgians from the Gali region, to return home, but the Abkhaz insist on virtual independence.

Currently, Russian peacekeepers, under the authority of the Commonwealth of Independent States, are stationed in Abkhazia, along with UN observers[?], but both groups have recently had to restrict their activities due to increased mining and guerrilla activity. Negotiations have not resulted in movement toward a settlement. Working with France, U.K., Germany, and Russia and through the United Nations and the OSCE, the U.S. continues to encourage a comprehensive settlement consistent with Georgian independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The UN observer force and other organizations are quietly encouraging grassroots cooperative and confidence-building measures in the region.

The parliament has instituted wideranging political reforms supportive of higher human rights standards, but problems persist, largely as a result of the unwillingness of certain law enforcement and criminal justice officials to support constitutionally mandated changes. Mistreatment of detainees is a significant and continuing problem, as is corruption within certain state agencies and monopolies. In 1998, increased citizen awareness of civil rights and democratic values has provided an increasingly effective check on the excesses of law enforcement agencies.

Political Parties
There are 11 main political parties and two political blocks in Georgia. Of these, four are pro-government and seven are opposition parties. The Citizens Union of Georgia[?] (CUG), a pro-government party formed in late 1993, is dominated by young reformers but also includes Soviet bureaucrats connected to Shevardnadze from his days as leader of Soviet Georgia. The CUG's name recognition, financial support, and organization give it a distinct advantage over the other political parties.

The National Democratic Party represents the opposition in parliament. The party was formed in 1981 and has strong name recognition throughout most of the country. The Union of Democratic Revival is a vehicle in Tbilisi for political representation of the Ajarian region. The Abkhaz faction remains vocal and influential in pushing for resolution for the Abkhaz conflict.

Government Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Georgia
local long form: none
local short form: Sak'art'velo
former: Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: GG

Government type: republic

Capital: T'bilisi

Administrative divisions: 53 rayons (raionebi, singular - raioni), 9 cities* (k'alak'ebi, singular - k'alak'i), and 2 autonomous republics** (avtomnoy respubliki, singular - avtom respublika); Abashis[?], Abkhazia or Ap'khazet'is Avtonomiuri Respublika** (Sokhumi[?]), Adigenis[?], Ajaria** (Batumi), Akhalgoris[?], khalk'alak'is[?], Akhalts'ikhis[?], Akhmetis[?], Ambrolauris[?], Aspindzis[?], Baghdat'is[?], Bolnisis[?], Borjomis[?], Chiatura[?]*, Ch'khorotsqus[?], Ch'okhatauris[?], Dedop'listsqaros[?], Dmanisis[?], Dushet'is[?], Gardabanis[?], Gori[?]*, Goris[?], Gurjaanis[?], Javis[?], K'arelis[?], Kaspis[?], Kharagaulis[?], Khashuris[?], Khobis[?], Khonis[?], Kutaisi[?]*, Lagodekhis[?], Lanch'khut'is[?], Lentekhis[?], Marneulis[?], Martvilis[?], Mestiis[?], Mts'khet'is[?], Ninotsmindis[?], Onis[?], Ozurget'is[?], P'ot'i[?]*, Qazbegis[?], Qvarlis[?], Rust'avi[?]*, Sach'kheris[?], Sagarejos[?], Samtrediis[?], Senakis[?], Sighnaghis[?], T'bilisi[?]*, T'elavis[?], T'erjolis[?], T'et'ritsqaros[?], T'ianet'is[?], Tqibuli[?]*, Ts'ageris[?], Tsalenjikhis[?], Tsalkis[?], Tsqaltubo[?]*, Vanis[?], Zestap'onis[?], Zugdidi[?]*, Zugdidis[?]
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence: 9 April 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 May (1991)

Constitution: adopted 17 October 1995

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze[?] (previously elected chairman of the Government Council 10 March 1992, Council has since been disbanded; previously elected chairman of Parliament 11 October 1992; president since 26 November 1995); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze (previously elected chairman of the Government Council March 10, 1992, Council has since been disbanded; previously elected chairman of Parliament October 11, 1992; president since November 26, 1995); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 5 November 1995 (next to be held April 9, 2000)
election results: Eduard Shevardnadze elected president; percent of vote - Eduard Shevardnadze 74%

Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Council (commonly referred to as Parliament) or Umaghiesi Sabcho (235 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 31 October[?] 1999 (next to be held NA 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - CUG 41.85%, AGUR 25.65%, IWSG 7.8%, all other parties received less than 7% each; seats by party - CUG 130, AGUR 59, IWSG 15, Abkhaz[?] deputies 12, independents 14, other 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges elected by the Supreme Council on the president's recommendation; Constitutional Court

Political parties and leaders: Citizen's Union of Georgia[?] or CUG [Eduard Shevardnadze]; Georgian United Communist Party[?] or UCPG [Panteleimon GIORGADZE, chairman]; Greens Party[?] [Giorgi GACHECHILADZE]; Industry Will Save Georgia[?] or IWSG [Georgi Topadze]; Labor Party [Shalva NATELASHVILI]; National Democratic Party[?] or NDP [Irina SARISHVILI-CHANTURIA]; National Independent Party[?] or NIP [Irakli TSERETELI, chairman]; People's Party[?] [Mamuka GIORGADZE]; Socialist Party[?] or SPG [Vakhtang RCHEULISHVILI]; [[Union for "Revival" Party]] or AGUR [Alsan ABASHIDZE]; Union of Traditionalists[?] or UGT [Akaki ASATIANI]; United Republican Party[?] or URP [Nodar NATADZE, chairman]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Georgian refugees from Abkhazia (Abkhaz faction in Georgian Parliament); separatist elements in the breakaway region of Abkhazia; supporters of the late ousted President Zviad GAMSAKHURDYA[?] remain a source of opposition

International organization participation: BSEC[?], CCC, Council of Europe (guest), CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP[?], UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Flag description: maroon field with small rectangle in upper hoist side corner; rectangle divided horizontally with black on top, white below

See also : Georgia

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