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Political situation Power struggles slowing down reforms
After the 2003 Rose Revolution, efforts began under President Mikheil Saakashvili, of the United National Movement, to implement ambitious reforms and tackle widespread corruption. Authoritarian tendencies within the government and growing dissatisfaction among the people led to a change of power in 2012, when the parliamentary elections were won by the Georgian Dream party, which had previously been in opposition. It has since won all elections, most recently the parliamentary elections in October 2020 and the local elections in October 2021. According to monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the elections in Georgia were conducted properly, albeit with minor flaws (such as allegations of intimidation and vote-buying).
After the 2020 parliamentary elections, the opposition, the United National Movement, boycotted parliament for six months in protest over allegations of electoral fraud. Following mediation efforts by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, in spring 2021, the two parties agreed some initial steps towards resuming their cooperation, including a commitment to launch comprehensive reforms of electoral legislation and of the justice system. In July 2021, however, the governing party withdrew from what is called the Michel Plan, which has led to protracted political polarisation between the governing and the opposition party.
Political and social polarisation
The growing political polarisation between the two large parties, Georgian Dream and United National Movement, and between their supporters is making the implementation of the envisaged reforms more difficult and is paralysing the country. This has undermined the country's former role of a highly reform-oriented leader in the region – yet further reforms would be urgently needed, especially with regard to the justice system.
The political polarisation also has an impact on civil society and the media. Non-governmental organisations and the press and broadcasters play an important role in Georgia's political life, but they usually take a clear political stance for or against the government.
While Georgia guarantees political and civil rights (such as freedom of assembly and free speech), the protection of minorities is a problem in the country, especially that of LGBTQI+ people. There was an international outcry after violent clashes left 55 people injured during the pride parade held by LGBTQI+ activists in Tbilisi on 5–6 July 2021. The police and government remained largely inactive when LGBTQI+ activists and journalists were attacked, and in some cases even blamed the pride movement for the developments.
Partnership with Western countries
Georgia is seeking partnership with Western countries and is working very actively to become a member of the EU. It also continues to pursue the goal of joining NATO. Since 2009, Georgia – just like the other former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus (whose participation has been suspended) – has been part of the Eastern Partnership, which is part of the European Union's neighbourhood initiative.
In June 2014, the EU and Georgia signed an association and free trade agreement, which entered into force on 1 July 2016. It requires Georgia to undertake comprehensive political reforms in the fields of democracy and rule of law, protection of human rights, and anti-corruption. The agreement also contains provisions on harmonising legal and economic standards, for example in the field of trade, in tax and competition law, in the energy sector, and with regard to environmental protection and climate action. In response to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, Georgia – just like Ukraine and Moldova – applied for accession to the EU in March 2022. Originally, this move had been planned for 2024.
As at: 08/06/2022