Nations in Transit: Georgia’s Democracy Score Keeps Worsening

The Freedom House, a U.S.-based rights watchdog, said in its Nations in Transit 2022 report that Georgia’s democracy score declined from 3.18 to 3.07, making the country remain in the “transitional government or hybrid regime” category.

The report, published on April 20, evaluates the state of democratic governance in 29 post-communist nations in Europe and Eurasia, pertaining to key developments over the last year. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the lowest and 7 the highest level of democratic progress.

An overall democracy score is an average of ratings for separate indicators, involving national democratic governance; electoral process; civil society; independent media; local democratic governance; judicial framework and independence; and corruption.

Georgia’s score declined in three indicators, the rest remain unchanged.

In particular, National Democratic Governance rating fell from 2.50 to 2.25 over the collapse of the April 19 EU-brokered agreement and the intensification of the political crisis through the actions of ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition actors, the watchdog said.

Civil Society rating also declined from 4.25 to 4.00, reflecting, as the report put it “the permissive environment for violent far-right groups like those responsible for the deadly July 2021 assault on the Tbilisi Pride NGO and media workers covering the planned March for Dignity.”

Judicial Framework and Independence rating worsened as well from 2.75 to 2.50 to reflect “the enduring and deteriorating crisis in the judiciary.”

This was expressed in the politicized handling of cases involving opposition figures and the government’s ongoing failure to implement long-sought reforms, the Freedom House noted.

In its report, the watchdog criticized the one-party dominance characteristic for hybrid regimes, and their use of “legislative turbo mode” as a modus operandi. Listing the examples of Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia in this regard, the report added:

“Worse still, turbo mode can morph into the abusive majoritarianism of Fidesz [of Hungary] and Georgia’s Georgian Dream.”

Georgia’s democracy score has continued to deteriorate for the last six years. In 2016 and 2017 reports, the figure stood at 3.39. In 2018 it fell to 3.32, and in 2019 it continued to worsen to 3.29. The 2020 score stood at 3.25, which dropped to 3.18 in 2021.

In comparison, Georgia ranks higher than its neighbors Azerbaijan (1.07), Russia (1.32 points), and Armenia, whose score increased from 2.96 to 3.04 in 2021.

Georgia’s fellow EU membership hopefuls Ukraine and Moldova are ahead with 3.36 and 3.11 points, respectively.

A detailed country report on Georgia is yet to be released.

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