Georgia’s average score on the Democracy Index has declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling to 5.12 out of 10 in 2021, according to the latest report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on February 10.
The score, Georgia’s lowest in a decade, fell from 5.31 of 2020 yet the country still retained its 91st spot among 167 countries as a “hybrid regime.”
In terms of the five specific measures that make up the average score, Georgia received the lowest, 3.57 points for the functioning of the government, 3.75 for political culture, 5.29 for civil liberties, 5.56 for political participation, and 7.42 for electoral process and pluralism.
A fall in the latter two categories compared to 2020 led to the overall year-over-year tail-off.
As for the factors that fueled the decline, the report observed that social cohesion suffered and “several turbulent events hindered democratic processes” in Georgia last year. The heightened political tensions, it said, also deepened social divisions in the country.
The report put the spotlight on the local elections of October 2021, citing international observers in describing the polls as marred by irregularities. It noted that the ruling Georgian Dream party benefited from “significant financial and operational advantages, hindering electoral competition and transparency.”
Besides, the report mentioned “tensions” between the governing party and opposition United National Movement, as well as the arrest of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on the eve of elections.
Georgia’s downward trend began after 2017, tapering off from 5.93 year after year. Overall, since the 2006 inception of the Index, the country’s highest score on the global ranking was 5.95 points in 2013, and the lowest ever – 4.59 points in 2010.
As things stand currently, Georgia is one of the four “hybrid regimes” in eastern Europe, sharing the category with neighboring Armenia and Ukraine — which both again topped Georgia in the global ranking of 2021, taking the 89th and 86th places, respectively.
Georgia has successively ended up below Ukraine in the rankings starting from the 2018 Index, all the while Armenia overtook the country in 2019 and has stayed ahead since.
Meanwhile, Moldova, one of the Associated Trio countries working towards joining the EU alongside Ukraine and Georgia, drastically improved its score. It landed in 69th place in 2021, up from 80th the previous year, entering the list of “flawed democracies” and leaving behind its “hybrid regime” category.
According to the Democracy Index, out of 28 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there are 16 “flawed democracies’’ (comprising EU eastern member states and most of the western Balkans), four “hybrid regimes” (those listed above, and Bosnia and Herzegovina), eight “authoritarian regimes” (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, and all Central Asian states). None is a “full democracy,” as per the report.
The EIU, is the research division of the Economist Group, which also publishes the weekly newspaper the Economist. The Unit has been reporting on the state of democracy in the world with its Democracy Index since 2006. The Index is based on 60 indicators grouped into the five categories mentioned above.
Based on average points, each country is then classified as one of the four types of regimes. A country has to score more than 8 points to be a “full democracy” and earn greater than 6 or less than 8 points to be named as a “flawed democracy”. One with more than 4 but less than 6 points is designated a “hybrid regime” and one with less than 4 points is described as an “authoritarian regime”.