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Georgia: Can Democracy Thrive Without Opposition?

Bidzina Ivanishvili (center, by the microphone) and other leaders of the governing Georgian Dream party, seen here celebrating their victory in the October parliamentary elections, may also be tempted to break out the champagne and toast the recent demise of the United National Movement, the only opposition party strong enough to challenge them in parliament. But they would be advised to take a deep breath and consider the potential downsides, analysts argue. (Photo: Georgian Dream)

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili led a triumphant delegation in late March on a visit to Athens and then Brussels. The Georgian officials were celebrating a hard-fought victory, as the European Union finally made good on its promise to allow Georgians to travel to Europe visa-free.
 
But while Georgia has taken a step closer to the EU, the democratization process at home seems to be moving backward.
 
Visa liberalization makes life easier for Georgians traveling to Europe. It also has symbolic importance, affirming Georgia’s deepening integration with Europe and showing its citizens a tangible benefit of the country’s reform efforts. But beyond this symbolic victory, the future of Georgia’s democratic development remains in question.
 

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Kornely Kakachia is director of the Georgian Institute of Politics and a professor of Political Science at Tbilisi State University. Contact him at kakachia@gip.ge. Joseph Larsen is an analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics. Contact him at larsen@gip.ge.

Georgia: Can Democracy Thrive Without Opposition?

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