11 Apr 2018 - 18:00
Freedom House, a US-based, government-funded non-governmental organization for democracy, political freedom and human rights says in its Nations in Transit 2018 report that Georgia will not experience any political earthquakes in 2018.
The year will be shaped by the upcoming presidential election, which will mark the last time a Georgian president is directly elected by the people.
Even in the rather unlikely event that an opposition candidate wins the presidency, the presidential election will not substantially change the political balance in the country,” the report reads.
Freedom House reports that it remains to be seen whether opposition parties can stem their trend of fragmentation and close ranks in preparation for parliamentary elections in 2020.
"For the ruling Georgian Dream, which has mastered the craft of popular semi-democratic politics, the main challenge in 2018 will be tackling the economic and social hardship that feeds public dissatisfaction more than any political issue,” the report reads.
The report says that Georgia’s civil society will continue exerting its influence on political processes throughout 2018, but it is unclear whether Georgia’s media landscape, which suffered from political interference in 2017, will recover in 2018.
Although Georgia’s media landscape remains pluralistic and vibrant, the editorial freedom of key media outlets experienced setbacks in 2017,” reads the report and says that the setbacks were caused by the appointment of Vasil Maglaperidze, an individual related to the founder of the Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili, as the new head of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster and the ownership dispute in the opposition-minded Rustavi 2 private broadcaster.
The report says that the year 2017 was, overall, a period of slight setbacks for Georgia’s democratic development as the Georgian authorities found it difficult to strike a balance between the contradictory goals of advancing democratization on the one hand and consolidating power on the other.