The messenger logo

Georgian democracy in transition

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 11
Despite the much-touted efforts of the Saakashvili government, Georgia is still not a truly democratic country. Freedom House recently assessed the country as "hybrid" or "transitional"; between democratic and authoritarian. This is especially unpleasant when Georgia is trying to secure for itself the reputation of being the most democratic country in the Caucasus - and not just by default. However, if the country is able to hold genuinely free and fair elections this fall, this may give hope that we're at least moving in the right direction.

The Freedom House study looked at events in 2011, and found that many former Soviet countries, while having made strides in democratization, are experiencing backslides. As the report had little good to say about Georgia, the government has not widely discussed its conclusions. In contrast, it raises questions and challenges the official line. Compared with 2010, Georgia’s democracy has faltered somewhat, mainly regarding judicial independence.

However, there are some reasons for optimism - Georgia is outpacing its peers. Armenia is classified as "semi-authoritarian", while both Russia and Azerbaijan are considered fully authoritarian. Georgian officials are proud their country is more free than their neighbours, but being the best among hybrids and authoritarians is not necessarily something to crow about.

Hopefully, when we examine the results of the 2012 study, we will see progress - especially since the parliamentary election will play such a large role in the research. A successful, transparent election may be what Georgia needs to boost its rating, and to really have something to brag about.