The Georgian parliamentary elections of 2016 have caused a political earthquake in the region, producing a largely two-party parliament for the first time ever in the country's history. 'Georgian Dream', the ruling party, has come surprisingly far ahead but failed to secure both a parliamentary and constitutional majority. For the first time since the Russian invasion of 2008, an openly pro-Russian and far-right 'Alliance of Patriots of Georgia' has reportedly also secured six seats. There's growing discontent with the slow pace of EU and NATO integration processes in the country, Nicholas Waller, a freelance journalist covering the country tells Hromadske.
They see a lack of progress with this process. They've been constantly inundated with Russian media, whose presence is growing on a daily basis. In the end, you hear things from even young Georgians, you wouldn't hear just a couple of years ago, like anti-Western messages, messages about returning to 'our Orthodox traditional values,' Waller points out. The frustration is magnified by the failure of recent open-market reforms to elevate most Georgians from poverty and put an end to endemic unemployment, he adds.
Constitutional redefining of marriage topped the election campaign in Georgia, with the ruling 'Georgian Dream' pushing for more restrictions on civil rights of queer citizens. 'There's an attack not just on queer rights, it goes much further than this. For example into the discussion about 'traditional gender roles', you'll see all sorts of ridiculous comments people would make about roles of mean and women in the Georgian society," Waller says.
Nicholas Waller, a freelance reporter joined Maxim Eristavi for the Sunday Show from Tbilisi, Georgia through Skype on October 9th, 2016.