Change of Political Elites in Georgia and Patrimonialism

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-7-116-125
V. Mukhanov (, 
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Received 25.07.2020.

Abstract. The article examines the process of formation of the political elite in Georgia during the period of independence, starting from the cardinal de-Sovietization of management personnel in the 90s, and ending with the last significant appointments in the era of B. Ivanishvili. The stages of evolution and transformation of the elite are analyzed in detail – under E. Shevardnadze, M. Saakashvili, and B. Ivanishvili, the peculiarities of the personnel policy of this or that Georgian leader are highlighted. Both the very course of the change and rejuvenation of the elite and the change in its educational background and political guidelines are traced. The article shows that despite all these changes the nature of government in Georgia has not been changed. The political regime in Georgia is still a kind of patronage rule. The author examines its characteristic features, analyzes the reasons for survivability of such a form despite repeated changes and political parties in power. 

Keywords: Georgia, elite, Russia, Shevardnadze, Saakashvili, Ivanishvili, patrimonialism


  1. Jones S. Georgia. A Political History since Independence. London – New York, 2013. 400 p.
  2. Ionova E. Postsovetskoe prostranstvo: rol’ vneshnego faktora. Mezhdunarodnyi kruglyi stol [The post-Soviet Space: The Role of the External Factor. International Round Table]. Rossiya i novye gosudarstva Evrazii, 2017, no. 3, pp. 86-95.
  3. Ryabov A. Nedemokraticheskie perekhody i tipy postsovetskikh rezhimov [Non-democratic Transitions and Types of post-Soviet Regimes]. Tsar’ gory. Nedemokraticheskii transfer vlasti na postsovetskom prostranstve [King of the Hill. Non-democratic Transfer of Power in the post-Soviet Space]. Rogov K., ed. Moscow, fond “Liberal’naya missiya”, 2019. Iss. 6, pp. 23-27.
  4. De Waal T. Vybor Gruzii: kakoi kurs izbrat’ v period neopredelennosti? [Georgia’s Choice: Which Course to Take in a Time of Uncertainty?] Moscow, 2011. 67 p.
  5. Sysoev T. Matritsa postsovetskoi elity [The Matrix of the post-Soviet Elite]., 04.11.2019. Available at: (accessed 05.10.2020).
  6. Scott E. Familiar Strangers. The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire. Oxford, 2016. 333 p.
  7. Mukhanov V., Skakov A. Politicheskaya stabil’nost’ po-gruzinski (Gruziya posle vyborov 2016 g.) [Political Stability the Georgian Way (Georgia after the 2016 Elections)]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2018, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 53-62. Available at:
  8. Mosaki N. Obrazovatel’nyi bekgraund vlastnoi elity Gruzii i rossiisko-gruzinskie otnosheniya [Educational Background of Georgia’s Power Elite and Russian-Georgian Relations]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2015, no. 9, pp. 93-104. Available at:
  9. The Leader of the Georgian Opposition Called Her Studies at MGIMO “Experience in the Camp of the Enemy”., 03.03.2020. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 10.09.2020).
  10. Markedonov S., Skakov A. Postsovetskaya Gruziya: ot turbulentnosti k stabil’nosti i predskazuemosti [Post-Soviet Georgia: From Turbulence to Stability and Predictability]. Evolyutsiya postsovetskogo prostranstva: proshloe, nastoyashchee, budushchee [Evolution of the post-Soviet space: past, present, future]. Moscow, NP RSMD, 2017, pp. 131-140.
  11. Aprasidze D. Byurokraticheski-patrimonial›noe gosudarstvo v Gruzii: novye shansy posle “revolyutsii roz? [Bureaucratic-Patrimonial State in Georgia: New Chances after the Rose Revolution?] Tsentral’naya Aziya i Kavkaz, 2004, no. 1 (31), pp. 48-55.
  12. Helmke G., Levitski S. Neformal’nye instituty i sravnitel›naya politika: osnovnye napravleniya issledovanii [Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: The Main Areas of Research]. Prognozis, 2007, no. 2, pp. 188-211.
  13. Hale H. Demokratiya ili avtokratiya na marshe? “Tsvetnye revolyutsii” kak normal’noe razvitie patronazhnogo prezidentskogo pravleniya [Democracy or Autocracy on the March? “Color revolutions” as a Normal Development of a Patronage Presidential Government]. Prognozis, 2007, no. 2, pp. 267-294.
  14. Derlugian G. Georgia’s Return of the King. Working paper no. 22, Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (2004). CSIS. Available at: (accessed 01.10.2020).
  15. Fairbanks Jr.C.H. Georgia’s Rose Revolution. Journal of Democracy, April 2004, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 110-124.
  16. Theobald R. Patrimonializm [Patrimonialism]. Prognozis, 2007, no. 2, pp. 166-176.
  17. Gherasimov K. Political Elite Renewal in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Political Paper (Chatham House). May 2019. 34 p.
  18. Hale H. Spustya 25 let posle raspada SSSR: Chto poshlo ne tak? [25 Years after the Collapse of the USSR: What Went Wrong?] Central Asia Analytical Network, 15.08.2016. Available at: (accessed 01.10.2020).
  19. Hale H. Opyt peredachi vlasti na postsovetskom prostranstve: chto my znaem pro eto? [The experience of transferring power in the post-Soviet space: what do we know about this?] Tsar’ gory. Nedemokraticheskii transfer vlasti na postsovetskom prostranstve [King of the Hill. Non-democratic Transfer of Power in the post-Soviet Space]. Rogov K., ed. Moscow, fond “Liberal’naya missiya”, 2019. Iss. 6, pp. 8-15.
  20. Garibashvili Iraklii Tarielovich. Kavkazskii uzel, 15.06.2015. (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 05.10.2020).
  21. Biography Georgiya Kvirikashvili. Sputnik-Gruziya, 25.12.2015. Available at: (accessed 05.10.2020).

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Mukhanov V. Change of Political Elites in Georgia and Patrimonialism. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 7, pp. 116-125.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 7
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • The Supporting Structure of Global Security
  • Institutional Features of the Fourth Energy Transition
  • The Evolution of Modern German Christian Democracy
  • The Monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.