TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report shows that Georgia is largely as democratic as it has been since and even before the rose revolution in 2003.
In Freedom House’s report Nations in Transit 2012, Georgia remains in the category called “transitional government or hybrid regime”, together with Ukraine, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania and Moldova.
Even though Georgia is listed among countries that have had improvements, together with Armenia, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, there are no major changes compared to last year or compared to any year since 2003, when Mikheil Saakashvili led a bloodless coup, promising to usher in democratic reforms.
Freedom House uses a scale from one to seven, with one being the most democratic, and seven meaning authoritarian regime.
Georgia’s overall democracy score this year is 4.82. It was 4.83 in 2003, and has since varied from 4.68 to 4.96, with last year’s score being 4.86.
Among each of the indicators, there is an improvement this year in regard to corruption, which Freedom House rates at 4.50 this year, up from 4.75 in 2011.
Corruption is the only area in which there was an improvement the last year. The chapter about Georgia says the Saakashvili regime has done well in fighting low level corruption, but that so-called elite corruption is a challenge. The author of the chapter, David Aprasidze, a professor of political science at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, commends the government for its strong will which has yielded extraordinary results in the area, while also noting that the country’s record high prison population is of concern.
Aprasidze refers older data showing that Georgia has the second highest proportion of its population imprisoned, after Russia. However, in the latest World Prison Population List, Georgia has overtaken Russia and is currently number one in Europe and number four globally. In 2003, Georgia was number 59.
As there are upcoming elections in the country in October there is focus on the election system. The report makes reference to legislative changes implemented by parliament at the end of December and also in April as result of negotiations with civil society.
“The impact of the new code cannot fully be assessed until the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2012–13 have taken place. Therefore, the electoral process rating remains unchanged at 5.00.”