13 November 2009

Getting Started

What needs to be done to improve Georgian democracy? An array of institutions require continuing attention. Main areas of focus include the constitution and electoral legislation; the judiciary and interior ministry; and media. All these areas have been subjects of discussion since the first days after the Rose Revolution, six years ago.

The government's forcible dispersal of protestors in November 2007 led to heightened attention to the shortcomings of Georgia's democratic system. Since then, and especially after the August 2008 war, the government of Georgia began acknowledging the need to implement a "new wave" of democratic reforms. While reforms have been implemented or initiated in a number of spheres, and promises for further reforms have been made, much more work remains.

For a recent survey of the "second wave" of democratic reform, see Transparency International Georgia's September 2009 report, "Reform or Retouch? Georgia's 'New Wave' of Democracy". Also see the collection of articles in Spotlight on Georgia (ed. Adam Hug of the UK's Foreign Policy Centre).

A detailed analysis of Georgian politics and institutional reform since the November 2007 crisis can be found in my article, "Still Staging Democracy: Contestation and Conciliation in Postwar Georgia" (Demokratizatsiya, Summer 2009). Svante Cornell and Niklas Nillson provide a more concise treatment of the subject in the same journal. Other valuable recent articles include "Georgia's Year of Turmoil" by Miriam Lanskoy (National Endowment for Democracy) and Giorgi Areshidze (Journal of Democracy, October 2008), and "Compromising Democracy: State Building in Saakashvili's Georgia" (Central Asian Survey, June 2009) by Lincoln Mitchell. An early critique of the post-Rose Revolutionary constitutional reforms by Irakly Areshidze is here. Areshidze and Mitchell also have book-length treatments of Georgian politics that are indispensable reads.

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