Reaching Heights: Georgia’s Misunderstood Democracy


The recently divulged expert opinion has it that Georgia is the only country in the region ready for free and fair elections. Wow! Can’t be true! But the American Ambassador in Tbilisi puts it even better, saying that the election campaign of Georgia is so good that he would like such a campaign in the United States. Isn’t this something?!

On the other hand, if we look back inquisitively enough into the annals, it all adds up: the origins of indigenous parliamentarianism here date back to the 12th century; Georgia’s political adulthood has been tempered in the long and painful process of maturity; our people were compelled to spill plenty of sweat and blood, plodding through the thick and thin of political changes; and it took generations to conceive that the modern political game in our complicated world is played with totally refreshed and renovated rules and tools, having nothing to do with the anachronistic soviet ideology within which this nation spent almost a century.

This said, do we actually believe that we have truly become a country of a stable full-grown democracy where the electorate is already elevated to the level of making the most optimal decisions when faced with that magic ballot box? Are we really that gullible as people? I don’t think so! And the ‘extra-mile’ biblical adage should be of great help here to corroborate my presumption. We have to go through more political education and maturation in order for us to understand that the freedom of speech, as unconstrained as it seems to be in our political reality at this time, is not a panacea for all the flaws and vices that our society is suffering right now, especially in managing the nation’s external and internal affairs.

First and utmost in this respect would stand out our inability to accept the change of government with due tolerance and benevolence, and to take every new ruling team for granted as a legitimate produce of our people’s choice. I feel obligated though to render the dues to the four-year-ago peaceful transition of power from one set of hands to another. The process was indeed non-violent, and its immediate aftermath was of course fairly co-habitable for the decisive political powers to let the nation survive the weird change of governmental paws.

Secondly, no matter how improved and brushed-up the electoral process seems to all of us, it still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of security and legitimacy because we ceaselessly hear the rumor that revolution is brewing in the country due to the discontent of those political forces who might lose the competition.

There is a third reason that pushes me into thinking that elections as such in Georgia need to become far better, as one of the surest symptoms of democratic development of our society: the superfluous participation of politically hungry men and women in the process. Frankly, I suspect that there is not only politics in there to enjoy but also something lucrative, too, in the universally cherished consequence of a successful run. Has it ever occurred to anybody why so many people want to be in politics in Georgia? There are only 150 seats in the parliament, for which 2,805 potential deputies of the Republic’s legislation will be fighting in a couple of days, representing 12 political parties. Almost twenty aspirants per seat! Incidentally, there are more than 200 political parties officially registered in Georgia. Imagine if all of them were lucky enough to have an eager finger in the pie! The statistics make me think that democracy is a touch misunderstood in Georgia and it will probably take us years to get out of the confusion safe and sound.

So let us not be overly hopeful that we have achieved the highest peaks in performing the freest and fairest elections in the world and have reached the acme in what is called democracy today. In a word, the process of political maturation – as brittle and delicate as it looks – is certainly on, has a long history and a promising future but it is moving forward slowly. Not to worry! Better something than nothing! As they noted in the West, others in the region are dreaming of these heights of ours.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

29 September 2016 19:32