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2011: prospects of hybrid democracy

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 5
Georgia's current authorities continually highlight that Georgia is on the democratic path and that even problems with Russia are determined by this reality.

Georgian authorities are sure that the term "beacon of democracy" fits Georgia nicely. Indeed compared to neighboring post soviet countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia itself, Georgia is more democratic. However, recent results of the Economist rating, where Georgia was rank103rd are not very prestigious at all.

In this rating Georgia is in the category of hybrid regimes which means that there are elements of democracy and authoritarianism, simultaneously in the country.

The ruling authorities name three major issues as the achievements of democracy in 2010. These are the new constitution which will come into full force in 2013, and the second is the initiative for media transparency, and the third is new economic course.

Media transparency became a matter of official initiative quite unexpectedly. Chair of the parliament David Bakradze initiated it. It mainly touched upon the issue of media outlet registration in offshore zones. Of course this initiative is to be welcomed but it is not enough, because media transparency deals with other issues as well, in particular, financial transparency.

The New economic course has become the topic for much speculation lately and is boosted by the ruling authorities who say that it is targeted for the further liberalization of economic activities. Independent analysts consider that it is much difference between the declarations and the reality. They think that there are monopolies in the country, business is controlled by the government and it is under permanent pressure.

Leading authorities often mention that their target is Singapore, with its economic development. Meanwhile authorities keep repeating that the country must integrate into the EU zone. Many analysts inside the country think that these are two directions when one excludes another. Independent analysts think that by claiming this uncertain direction of development in reality, Georgia is moving towards Singapore direction where as it is known is a domineering authoritarian regime and where the same party has governed the country for around 50 years. Here in Georgia President Saakashvili claimed sometime ago that the ruling party is prepared to stay in power for around 70 years. Interestingly, the Bolshevik regime stayed at power in the former Soviet Union for around 74 years.

For many independent analysts, their allusion is very clear. They think that pursuing the Singapore model indirectly means promoting an authoritarian regime.

Authorities think that the new constitution adopted last year officially confirms the country’s democratic direction. Chair of the parliament Davit Bakradze highlights that the adopted constitution diminishes the role of the president, increases the role of government and PM and parliament balances all this. Formally this is so, but many analysts suggest that the currently adopted constitution gives extremely favorable conditions to the current president to become the PM, where he can stay for an unlimited time.

So, the visibly "democratic" constitution could yield non democratic results, some analysts think. So, at this crucial moment for the development of the country, much depends on how the forthcoming parliamentary elections will be held in 2012 and the cornerstone for this will be the results of negotiations between the opposition and the ruling administration concerning amendments to the elections code.