Freedom in the World
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Georgia holds regular and pluralistic elections, and its democratic trajectory has generally shown significant improvement in recent years. However, oligarchic actors hold outsized influence over policy and political choices, and judicial independence continues to be stymied by executive and legislative interests.
- Following competitive parliamentary elections in October, the new legislature—sworn in the following month—announced intentions to conduct fundamental constitutional reform, drawing immediate disapproval from opposition parties and a number of civil society groups.
- The Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia party, the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, dominated the October elections and captured a supermajority.
- On a number of occasions during the year, the leader of the Constitutional Court complained about excessive pressure by government authorities; his comments earned the support of President Giorgi Margvelashvili but caused disagreement within the court itself.
Georgia held national parliamentary elections in October. Georgian Dream ran as a single party without its coalition partners and emerged with the highest proportion of party votes, winning the bulk of majoritarian seats. The United National Movement (UNM), Georgian Dream’s main rival, secured roughly a third of the proportional votes and none of the majoritarian seats. Observers found the elections to be competitive and largely fair.
Soon after the new legislators began their terms, the parliamentary leadership announced intentions to launch a far-reaching constitutional reform program in 2017, a controversial move that drew disagreement from opposition legislators, a number of civil society groups, and President Margvelashvili, who was elected as an independent candidate and remains unaffiliated with any political party. With its parliamentary dominance, the Georgian Dream party will likely dominate any constitutional commission charged with developing reforms.
The role of political interests in the judiciary remained a concern, and was apparent in several cases involving elected officials or government interests in general. On a number of occasions during the year, the president of the Constitutional Court complained of undue pressure and blackmail by government actors seeking particular outcomes in high-profile cases. His comments divided the Constitutional Court, with justices publicly agreeing with or opposing his claims. The court system’s handling of the ownership dispute involving Rustavi 2, the country’s main opposition channel, also suggested the continued involvement of political forces in the actions of the judiciary.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Georgia, see Freedom in the World 2016.