Elections Show Democratic Progress, Unresolved Challenges in Georgia
Freedom House applauds Georgia’s recent parliamentary election which international observers have characterized as competitive and respectful of fundamental freedoms. The free expression of the people’s will through the ballot box is a significant step in the right direction towards the consolidation of Georgia’s democratic system.
“This is a great achievement for a country which only twenty one years ago declared its independence and has since gone through revolution and war,” said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs at Freedom House, “Georgia must also strive to increase the civility of their political process. Georgia must work to foster a system which encourages open debate focused on issues rather than vicious accusations and the personalities of candidates.”
Freedom House commends President Mikhail Saakashvili for conceding defeat after the tense and ugly campaign, which had potential for violent protests. Although the Rose Revolution in 2004 was peaceful, this election marks the first time power has changed hands to a rival party through democratic means and diverts from the authoritarian trend witnessed in many of its former Soviet neighbors. Freedom House strongly urges the new government to implement the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in order to build off this momentum and enhance its democratic institutions.
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