Freedom House slightly lowers Georgia’s score for democratic governance

The opposition says that the report is a condemnation of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 06 May 2020 - 14:23, Tbilisi,Georgia

Freedom House has slightly decreased Georgia’s score in its Nations in Transit 2020 annual report on democratic governance in the region, with the country receiving 3.25 points, while the figure was 3.29 in 2019. 

The report says that in 2019 and in early 2020, politicians have undermined judicial independence and the rule of law in all of the subregions covered by Nations in Transit, resulting in score declines in the Czech Republic, Georgia, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, and Slovakia

Full or partial parliamentary boycotts by opposition parties in Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Montenegro, and Serbia disrupted the work of parliaments and signaled a lack of fairness and legitimacy. In some cases, a pattern of rushed lawmaking and restrictions on the opposition’s participation has long made a mockery of the legislative process,” says the report. 

Freedom House says that in February 2020, lawmakers from all of Georgia’s opposition blocs walked out of the legislature after the government ‘backtracked on its promise’ to transition the country to a fully proportional electoral system. 

Photo: Freedom House.

Had it been introduced, this system would have decreased the ruling Georgian Dream party’s chances of winning parliamentary elections again this year. The crisis was only defused when, with the help of international mediation, the parties met halfway in March,” the report reads. 

The report says that a motley crew of far-right, violent extremist groups have been making their voices heard in countries as diverse as the Baltic states, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. 

While the groups and their xenophobic messages are not necessarily new, they have demonstrated a new level of cross-border cooperation and enjoyed increasing support from American and Western European counterparts,” Freedom House says. 

Photo; Freedom House.

The report says that ‘while the judiciary has long been a flashpoint in Georgia’s polarised politics’, arbitrary arrests and a number of controversial court cases in 2019 and early 2020 further aggravated an already tense situation. 

A new entrant into the political field, businessman Mamuka Khazaradze, was slapped with money-laundering charges as soon as he announced the founding of a political movement, and a more established opposition leader was sentenced to 38 months in prison in a reheated case involving the alleged misuse of public funds,” said the report. 

Leader of the European Georgia opposition party Sergi Kapanadze says that the report is a ‘verdict’ for the Georgian Dream ruling party, ‘perfectly describing’ the situation in the country.