A New Chance for Georgian Democracy

Issue Date January 2013
Volume 24
Issue 1
Page Numbers 116-127
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Something amazing happened in Georgia’s 1 October 2012 parliamentary elections. The government lost and it gave up power, aside from the now-weakened presidency that it will hold for another year. A new coalition known as Georgian Dream ran under the leadership of Georgia’s richest man, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, and won 85 seats in the unicameral, 150-member Parliament. Georgia’s post-Soviet background and circumstances make the 2012 opposition win and subsequent orderly handover of power truly remarkable. Indeed, among the “competitive authoritarian” regimes found in what used to be the USSR, it is nearly unheard of. Georgia is lucky to be getting a fourth chance at democracy, after the opportunities under Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1990–92), Eduard Shevardnadze (1992–2003), and Saakashvili faded. But this chance remains a fragile one.