In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region
Edited By Ghia Nodia and Christoph H. Stefes
Cleavage Theory and the Electoral Geographies of Georgia
ABSTRACT: Georgia has held several important elections from the beginning of 2008, culminating in the fall of 2012 when an opposition political group defeated the ruling party. As competitive elections are relatively new to Georgia, a substantial amount of literature is dedicated to the problems of voting in that country. This chapter investigates how particular theories of voting, especially the cleavage model of Seymour M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan (1967), may be applied to the case of Georgia. The main argument is that political cleavages can be identified; however, their origins differ from those suggested by Lipset and Rokkan. It is argued that the political cleavages in Georgia are the products of the country’s recent historical experience – urbanization and ethnic alienation.
KEYWORDS: Georgia, elections, geography, cleavage model, democracy, Saakashvili
Unlike most western European countries, Georgia has a relatively short history of free and competitive elections. Little research has therefore been done in the field that would deal with the explanation of voting behaviour and, in particular, its spatial aspects. Cleavage theory, originally suggested by Seymour M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan (1967), cannot be completely applied to Georgian elections, as it is not relevant to this case. This chapter will show the existence of electoral cleavages other than those mentioned by Lipset and Rokkan. It will develop a theoretical model of voting behaviour in nascent democracies, examine the election results of the three national elections held in Georgia since 2008, and try to build a...
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