The Use of Personal Data in Georgian Politics

Since 2012, Georgia has been governed by the Georgian Dream – the coalition movement led by the millionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who served as the first prime minister of the country. Most recently, the Georgian Dream proclaimed victory again in the 2020 Parliamentary elections. These elections were evaluated as flawed but ultimately legitimate by international observers. However, this evaluation has not been accepted by the majority of the opposition parties, who rejected the election results as fraudulent and gave up their parliamentary seats.

Nino Macharashvili, director of ForSet, carried out a 6-month study observing the pre-election period in Georgia in 2020 and conducted interviews with experts after the elections. The research found that robocalls, mobile texting, and data leaks all played an important role in election tactics. At the same time, traditional methods remained dominant, especially as there is a lack of digital infrastructure across the country. The rising access to this infrastructure, and fears about the use of fake videos, suggest that these tools will continue to grow in importance in the increasingly polarised Georgian politics.

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Hear more from the author

Nino Macharashvili speaks with former Data and Politics co-lead Varoon Bashyakarla about the report and beyond. Discussing topics from offline voting practices that have the potential to be translated online to the history of revolution and hope, this conversation explores Macharashvili’s research and thoughts for the future.

Click here to listen to the full interview and read the transcript: Interview with Nino Macharashvili.
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