More than a quarter of century after once again achieving independence, fourteen years after the Rose Revolution, and five years after the democratic breakthrough that defeated the United National Movement (UNM), the state of democracy in Georgia is still mixed.
The recent local elections were generally reviewed with the same mixture of generally positive assessments, alongside reports of all too many instances of the governing Georgian Dream (GD) seeking to pressure voters to support them or otherwise abuse their power.
Similarly, while new constitutional reforms will do some things to make democracy stronger—like slowly move towards a fully party list system for parliamentary elections—it will also weaken democracy by moving away from direct elections for the President. The process itself was not done well, leaving many political forces outside of the GD feeling left out, angry, and dissatisfied. The strains from the process may have undermined perceptions of GD’s democratic credentials within the country and externally.
Dr. Lincoln Mitchell is an EDSN Fellow and a political development specialist based in New York and San Francisco. EDSN is an international project of the Center for Social Sciences, Tbilisi, and made possible with generous funding from the National Endowment for Democracy.