Georgia plans to finalize a pact with the European Union on June 27 that would bring Tbilisi closer to Brussels. Even so, the campaign environment ahead of Georgia’s local elections suggests that the country has quite a bit of distance to cover before it reaches the standards of a European democracy.
The former Soviet republic has yet to experience a campaign season that does not smack of a rowdy soccer match. After a peaceful change of government via a 2013 presidential election and 2012 parliamentary vote, Georgian officials can certainly point to democratization achievements. But the run-up to June 15 mayoral and local council elections still has seen bloody noses, egg-throwing and allegations that the governing Georgian Dream coalition is intimidating opposition candidates.
In Tbilisi for a quick check-in ahead of the association-agreement signing ceremony, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the EU’s chief executive, speaking during a June 12 news conference, voiced concerns about Georgia’s political process.
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