Transparency International is deeply concerned by the political crisis and backlash against independent civil society groups in Georgia, which risk harming democratic progress in the country and undermining attempts to fight corruption.
In the past two weeks, the decision by the ruling party, Georgian Dream, to backtrack on a promise to transition to a fully proportional parliamentary system in time for the 2020 elections has seen thousands of citizens taking to the streets in protest.
Transparency International calls on the Georgian government to respect citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and to find a constructive way to reengage with civil society.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said, “Events in Georgia are a cause for concern. Attempts to discredit civil society, and other critical voices, undermine the foundations of a healthy democracy. We are particularly alarmed by continued threats made against our chapter, Transparency International Georgia, and other civil society groups.”
Citizen pressure during the summer, demanding changes to the electoral system and accountability at the highest level of decision-making, resulted in the leader of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, announcing that the government would support electoral reform for the 2020 election. This decision was reversed two weeks ago, sparking the current protests.
Transparency International has previously warned about the signs of state capture in Georgia. The failure to proceed with electoral reform weakens the health of Georgia’s democracy and threatens future anti-corruption efforts.
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