Georgia's Long-Shot Democracy

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Media Outlet: Foreign Affairs

Michael Cecire wrote for Foreign Affairs about Georgia's democracy:

On October 8, Georgia held what may have been its freest, fairest, and most competitive elections in its independent history. The vote proceeded more smoothly than many observers had expected, given the rising tensions between the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the chief opposition party, what was once the ruling United National Movement (UNM), and the brief spike in political violence in the days leading up to it.
The vote marked Georgia’s third consecutive round of free elections since 2012, when a GD-led coalition overcame the odds to push the entrenched UNM out of power. Today, Georgia can certainly be called a democracy; it is home to a relatively open and competitive political and electoral environment. Yet whether the country’s democracy is a liberal one is less of a settled matter: the victorious GD may yet seek to mold the constitution to its own advantage, and hard-line factions within the UNM continue to agitate for GD’s ouster through extrapolitical means.
Georgia’s ability to consolidate its political institutions around a durable democratic culture is uncertain. In that quest, the seeds have only just been sown. As recent trends in the United States and Europe suggest, democracy is a garden in need of constant tending—and that is especially the case in Georgia. 


Michael Cecire is an international relations analyst and an International Security program fellow at New America. A Black Sea regional specialist, he has worked in a variety of political risk and public policy roles supporting U.S. national security, international economic development, and democracy promotion.