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Rise of Nationalist Populism in Georgia: Implications for European Integration

Bidzina Lebanidze[1]

This policy brief explores to what extent the rising wave of populist nationalism in Georgia affects the process of Georgia’s approximation to the EU. Normatively speaking, the populist nationalist discourse in Georgia is Eurosceptic as it legitimizes itself through opposition to progressive and liberal-democratic values which are part of EU’s normative script. So far its impact on the actual process of Georgia’s European integration has been rather negligible, however. Georgia remains the most pro-European state among the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, with more than 80% of population supporting the country’s EU membership. (more…)

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Decreasing level of trust in Georgian political parties: What does it mean for democracy and how to avoid negative consequences?

Levan Kakhishvili[1]

Trust in political parties in Georgia has dropped from 21 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2017. Although the level of trust has never been particularly high, this trend should raise concern and inspire political parties to act. Political trust is mostly determined by societal beliefs and political institutions. This paper analyzes both of these dimensions to demonstrate the roots of the distrust. In terms of beliefs, the paper explores four aspects of trust as perceived by the Georgian public: competence, benevolence, integrity, and predictability. The paper also considers the role of political institutions. (more…)

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Social Underpinnings of Right-Wing Populism in Georgia

Salome Minesashvili

A wave of right-wing, nationalist populism is sweeping the Western world, illustrated by Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing parties across Europe. Although neither populism nor right-wing movements are new to Georgia, the combination of the two and their legitimization by legislative rights is a more recent development over the past two decades. As a result of the 2016 parliamentary elections, the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, which is commonly assumed to be a right-wing populist party, managed to overcome the 5% threshold and secure seats in the legislative body, (more…)

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A Positive Influence in the South Caucasus? Georgia’s Potential as a Regional Stabilizer

Victor Le Grix

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that erupted in 1988 may reach a new level of intensity in the coming years. Although recent developments have shown the parties’ willingness to seriously restart the peace negotiations, the situation remains fragile. The implementation of an unbalanced status quo and the political attractiveness of short-term military victories in times of economic difficulties are factors which contribute to durable instability and  may still lead to a new clash. In a region where economic interests are so interconnected and influence is so disputed, (more…)

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Normative Power vs. Democratic Backsliding

European Values in the EU and Georgia

This policy paper is the result of a collaborative effort of the authors, Polis180, the Georgian Institute of Politics and Argo. It was inspired by the discussions we had during a workshop and conference, conducted from 16-20 September 2018 in Tbilisi as part of the project “Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Georgian, German and French Perspectives on European Values and Euro-Atlantic Integration”. We would like to thank the authors, editors and reviewers for their work on this paper and the workshop and conference speakers for their inspiring inputs.

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The socializing effects of Georgian parties’ membership in European political party federations

Levan Kakhishvili

Building a functioning party political system is a complex process that is influenced by a range of factors. On the other hand, the nature of party politics also shapes the process of democratization. That means that, without the foundation of relevant political party system, it is unimaginable that Georgia will achieve a consolidated democracy. This paper focuses on party politics in Georgia and how interactions with European party federations (hereafter “Europarties”) influences Georgian political parties. (more…)

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Defining the far right in Georgia: From neo-fascists to populist parties

Adriana Stephan

As countries throughout Europe fall prey to far-right dissent, Georgia is also witnessing gains in its own domestic, far-right movement. Though still a marginal phenomenon, the burgeoning success of these movements threatens Georgia’s European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambitions, as well as the strength of its democratic institutions. Far-right groups cultivate anti-Western sentiment and employ xenophobic, racist, and nationalist rhetoric to present foreigners as fundamentally incompatible with Georgian Orthodoxy and Georgian identity. (more…)

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Church and Politics or Church in Politics: How does the Georgian Orthodox Church Impact Georgia’s European Integration Policy?

Vladimer Narsia

This policy brief analyzes the role of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) in Georgian society, particularly in the context of promoting the European integration process. The paper consists of three sections: sermons and preaching that influence European integration policy; the Church-State nexus as a non-secular alliance; and the weak international links of the GOC. All three sections look at the GOC from the perspective of its level of support for Georgia’s European integration policy. While Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II can be considered an ecumenical and equivalently a European minded leader based on some of his statements, his position has not been shared by all Georgian (more…)

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Compendium of Policy Briefs 2018

Bidzina Lebanidze, Joseph Larsen,
Levan Kakhishvili, Ivanna Machitidze

Consisting of four policy briefs, the publication introduces policy recommendations on major aspects of Georgia’s Europeanization and democratization agenda,  particularly on the influence of Western political conditionality on domestic agendas; the importance of democratic consolidation at the political level; and influences from non-western regional actors (Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia) on Georgia’s democratization. Intended to encourage public participation in the democratic processes, this compendium creates the groundwork for government officials, field experts, civil society actors and interested stakeholders engaged in Georgia’s gradual democratic advancement.

This publication has been developed under the project – “Incentivizing Democratic Development”, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and implemented (more…)

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Causing Trouble for Democracies: Should Georgia Look West to Learn Russia’s Strategy?

Ivanna Machitidze

The combination of democratic promotion and democratic consolidation has long become a catch phrase for states to be recognized as high-achievers and their societies to be labelled as free. The West, the driving force of both processes, has underestimated the risk that the fruits of democracy promotion would be used for more nefarious goals than to aid its direct beneficiaries. However, the democratization process opens “windows of opportunity” for external actors to meddle via political parties and vibrant civil society, and find it relatively easy to breed agents that influence public opinion through country’s media freedom. 

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