Received 18.02.2022. Revised 07.03.2022. Accepted 03.09.2022.
Acknowledgements. This study was funded by MGIMO-University, project number 1921-01-04.
Abstract. After the ‘rose revolution’ Georgia significantly improved its governance and state institutions. Scholars explain it with the professional and personal qualities of the reformist team led by Mikhael Saakashvili, with the concentration of power in the hands of the reformers, and with the international settings. However, most of those explanations hardly work in case of the reforms that were implemented after Saakashvili’s team lost the power in 2012. From 2012 to 2020 Georgia have retained and even slightly improved the quality of state institutions. Also, the governments of the ruling ‘Georgian Dream’ party implemented three major reforms: of judiciary, of local self-government, and of public service. Why did Georgia continue reforms despite its domestic political settings changed dramatically after 2012? The paper aims to reveal structural factors which support the long-term reformist course. We point out three factors. The first is that the structure of Georgia’s economy and the constellation of the elite’s interests preclude the making of influential oligarchy able to significantly distort the state institutions. Unlike Ukraine, Georgia did not inherit from the USSR large export-oriented and lucrative heavy industrial sector that could have become an economic base for making sustainable financial-industrial groups with strong political influence. Unlike Moldova, Georgian home-grown “oligarchs” were locked within the small consumer market of their country and served as clients of the political leaders. The richest politicians in Georgia like Bidzina Ivanishvili, late Badri Patarkatsishvili, late Kakha Bendukidze played their own political game but the main sources of their wealth were abroad, their economic interest lay far beyond the national scale and they have (had) no strong incentives to distort the state institutions in the country. Therefore “oligarchs” in Georgia did not make obstacles for reforms. The second factor is that the opposition in 2012–2020 had no reasons to obstruct reforms implemented by “Georgian Dream” governments, because most of those reforms opened new ways (municipal reform) or gave new guaranties (judicial and public service reforms) for political participation. The third is the geopolitical one. The confrontation with Russia since 2004 provides Georgian political elite strong motivation to continue reforms in order to secure the Western patronage.
Keywords: Georgia, Post-Soviet Space, State Institutions, Reforms, Oligarchs, Judiciary, Local Self-Government, Public Service
1. Rekhviashvili L., Polese A. Liberalism and shadow interventionism in post-revolutionary Georgia (2003–2012). Caucasus Survey, 2017, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 27-50. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/23761199.2017.1283471 (accessed 01.02.2022).
2. Kvashilava B. The political constraints for civil service reform in Georgia: history, current affairs, prospects and challenges. Caucasus Survey, 2019, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 214-234. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/23761199.2019.1693238 (accessed 30.01.2022).
3. Hoffmann K. Local government reforms in Georgia and their impact on state-society relations. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2017, vol. 58, no. 5, pp. 481-501. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2017.1417051 (accessed 30.01.2022).
4. Hale H. Democracy or Autocracy on the March? The Colored Revolutions as Normal Dynamics of Patronal Presidentialism. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 2006, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 305-329. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postcomstud.2006.06.006 (accessed 01.02.2022).
5. Muskhelishvili M., Jorjoliani G. Georgia’s ongoing struggle for a better future continued: democracy promotion through civil society development. Democratization, 2009, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 682-708. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510340903083000 (accessed 30.01.2022).
6. Nasuti P. Administrative Cohesion and Anti-Corruption Reforms in Georgia and Ukraine. Europe-Asia Studies, 2016, vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 847-867. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2016.1192107 (accessed 30.01.2022).
7. Gvindadze D. The Transformation of Georgia from 2004 to 2012: State building, Reforms, Growth, and Investments. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 123 p.
8. Burakova L. Why did Georgia succeed? Moscow, LTD “United Press”, 2011. 271 p. (In Russ.)
9. Mendkovich N.A. The Cost of Reforms, or Why Georgia Failed? Moscow, RISS, 2012. 122 p. (In Russ.)
10. Kupatadze A. Georgia’s Break with the Past. Journal of Democracy, 2016, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 110-123. DOI: 10.1353/ jod.2016.0003
11. Robertson J., Ratkovich I. Judicial System: Failed Reform? 2014. 36 p. (In Geo.)
12. Tsimakuridze E. Selection of judges in transitional democracies. 2021. 36 p. (In Geo.)
13. Nodia G. Georgia: Dimensions of Insecurity. In Statehood and Security: Georgia after the Rose Revolution, edited by Bruno Coppieters and Robert Legvold. American Academy Studies in Global Security. Cambridge, 2005, pp. 39-82.
14. Welton G. The Prospects for Civil Service Reform: Ready, Willing and Able. 2006. 29 p.
15. Christian T. Economic Regulation and State Interventions. Georgia’s Move from Neoliberalism to State Managed Capitalism. Forschungspapiere Research Papers, 2013, no. 03. Available at: https://www.econstor.eu/obitstream/10419/75297/1/749922974.pdf
16. Tsuladze L. A monocrat’s hobby and its power: on shadow politics in Georgia. Caucasus Survey, 2021, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 42-59. DOI: 10.1080/23761199.2020.1871564
17. Pleines H. Oligarchs. More a symptom than a cause of Ukraine’s crisis. Vox Ukraine, 19.01.2017. Available at: https://voxukraine.org/en/oligarchs-more-a-symptom-en/ (accessed 02.02.2022).
18. Konończuk W., Cenușa D., Kakachia K. Oligarchs in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as key obstacles to reforms. 2017. Available at: https://gip.ge/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Oligarchs_14-June_FINAL_0.pdf (accessed 04.09.2022).
19. Minchenko E.N. Ukrainian Elite Groups and the Political Crisis of 2014. Silaev N.Yu., Sushentsov A.A., eds. Moscow, Ves’ Mir, 2020, pp. 158-176. (In Russ.)
1. Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia “On Common Courts”. 2647-RS, 01.08.2014. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/2455845?publication=0#DOCUMENT:1 (accessed 02.08.2022).
2. Implementation of the Judicial Strategy and the Action Plan (Second Shadow Report). Tbilisi, 2020. 91 p. Available at: https://idfi.ge/public/upload/EU/ENG_WEB456.pdf (accessed 02.08.2022).
3. Human Rights and Justice in Georgia: Public Attitudes and Awareness. 2017. 110 p. (In Geo).
4. The Organic Law of Georgia Local Self-Government Code. 2304, 05.02.2014. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/27802?publication=36 (accessed 02.08.2022).
5. Law of Georgia on property of local self-governing unit. 1190, 25.03.2005. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/29128?publication=13 (accessed 02.08.2022).
6. The Organic Law of Georgia Local Self-Government Code. 1958-IIს, 05.02.2014. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/2244429?publication=60 (accessed 02.08.2022).
7. Amendments to the Constitution of Georgia. 1324-რს, 13.10.2017. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/3811818?publication=2 (accessed 02.08.2022).
8. Decentralization Strategy 2020–2025. Available at: https://mrdi.gov.ge/pdf/5e468e292b317.pdf/Decentralization-strategy-ENG.pdf (accessed 02.08.2022).
9. The Law of Georgia on Public Service. 4346-IS, 27.10.2015. (In Geo.) Available at: https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/3031098?publication=37 (accessed 02.08.2022).
10. Report of the Public Defender on human rights and freedoms in Georgia. Tbilisi, 2008. (In Geo.) Available at: https://www.ombudsman.ge/res/docs/2019040411373642069.pdf (accessed 02.08.2022).
11. Voluntary gifts or state robbery? The years 2008–2012. Transparency International, 08.05.2013. Available at: https://transparency.ge/en/blog/voluntary-gifts-or-state-robbery-years-2008-2012 (accessed 01.02.2022).
12. Smoke of Corruption: The Grand Scheme to Allocate the Tobacco Market. Transparency International, 03.10.2018. Available at: https://www.transparency.ge/en/blog/smoke-corruption-grand-scheme-allocate-tobacco-market (accessed 01.02.2022).
13. Economic Transformation of Georgia: 20 Years of Independence. European Initiative – Liberal Academy Tbilisi. (In Geo.) Available at: https://ei-lat.ge/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/%E1%83%A1%E1%83%90%E1%83%A5%E1%83%90%E1%83%A0%E1%83%97%E1%83%95%E1%83%94%E1%83%9A%E1%83%9D%E1%83%A1-%E1%83%94%E1%83%99%E1%83%9D%E1%83%9C%E1%83%9D%E1%83%9B%E1%83%98%E1%83%99%E1%83%A3%E1%83%A0%E1%83%98-%E1%83%A2%E1%83%A0%E1%83%90%E1%83%9C%E1%83%A1%E1%83%A4%E1%83%9D%E1%83%A0%E1%83%9B%E1%83%90%E1%83%AA%E1%83%98%E1%83%90-%E1%83%93%E1%83%90%E1%83%9B%E1%83%9D%E1%83%A3%E1%83%99%E1%83%98%E1%83%93%E1%83%94%E1%83%91%E1%83%9A%E1%83%9D%E1%83%91%E1%83%98%E1%83%A1-20-%E1%83%AC%E1%83%94%E1%83%9A%E1%83%98.pdf
Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX