GIP Commentary: When an Election Damages Democracy: Lessons from the 2018 Georgia’s Presidential Election
Kornely Kakachia, Bidzina Lebanidze
Georgia’s recent presidential elections exposed many of the problems that have been aggravating the country’s democratization process over the last few years. By electing the country’s first female president, Georgia has made one step forward — but the violations that were documented during the vote represent two steps back in its efforts to consolidate its fragile democracy. International and local observers believe that the process of democratic consolidation is slowing down even as fundamental democratic norms are increasingly under threat, including wide political acceptance of the election results and the values associated with a responsible opposition. The country finds itself stuck in a semi-democratic limbo with the ruling party caught between the conflicting objectives of completing the democratization of the country and retaining political power. In addition, the main opposition parties are still hunted by the shadows of the past. While many of the problems highlighted during the 2018 presidential election have been a part of Georgian politics for some time now, some of them, such as political polarization and vote buying, have acquired new intensity. Below we outline a few distinct features that prominently figured in Georgia’s most recent elections, and further undermine Georgia’s infant democracy and its Euro Atlantic integration.