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In April 2020, the 5th Edition of the Democracy Conference #GEODEM was supposed to be held in Tbilisi, welcoming more than 100 participants. Announced in early February, the main theme of the conference was Georgia Before the Elections: How to Avoid Democratic Backsliding?”
However, the coronavirus pandemic has led us to move all our work and planned events online. As a consequence, the Georgian Institute of Politics decided to adjust the conference format and to introduce a special 3 panel, 3 webinar concept for #GEODEM2020.
The pandemic led us to modify the main topic of the conference in order to accommodate the new issues and challenges for the upcoming elections in Georgia that the virus has posed. Hence, the three online thematic panels of the conference this year will revolve around the issue Elections in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A New Challenge for Georgia’s Uncertain Democracy?
Kicking off the conference on 17th of June (15:00), the first panel, 2020 Parliamentary Elections Amid COVID-19, invites experts and key stakeholders to discuss Georgia’s readiness to hold elections in the midst of the coronavirus.
This year is crucial for Georgia’s democratic consolidation. The 2020 parliamentary elections will be a litmus test defining the country’s political dynamics for the next decade. Despite significant democratic progress achieved with the help of international community, there are several factors which continue to afflict the socio-political environment in Georgia – namely, the issue of electoral reform, strong socio-political polarization, wide-spread political apathy, the long tradition of ruling parties misusing administrative resources, and the notable imbalance in political donations. In addition, COVID-19 poses significant technical, political and social threats to the 2020 parliamentary elections.
Considering these challenges, the first panel will address the following questions during our Zoom webinar:
- How will COVID-19 affect the pre-election environment of Georgia? Under current circumstances, is Georgia able to conduct fair and competitive elections while safeguarding public health?
- What are the main challenges for the democratic conduct of the 2020 parliamentary elections?
- How should the major stakeholders of the election process (government, opposition, civil society, the international community) address unfamiliar challenges created by the pandemic?
- What can be done to ensure that the election results are accepted by all parties? What makes elections legitimate?
The panel will be moderated by John DiPirro, International Republican Institute (IRI)
Meet the speakers of the first panel:
- Tamar Zhvania, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC)
- Giorgi Tsereteli, European Georgia
- Mamuka Khazaradze, Lelo for Georgia
- Salome Samadashvili, United National Movement
The second panel will take place in July and will focus on International Actors and Elections.
A sequence of these online events will climax in the final panel during the same month with the main theme Polarization and Radicalization of the Electorate.
Each of the panels under #GEODEM2020 will be held via the online platform ZOOM and participants are asked to register in advance.
To attend the first panel of the conference on 17th of June, please register here – https://bit.ly/3cuMAp4
GIP’s annual Democracy Conference is organized with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Stay-tuned for more information about the conference and upcoming panels!