About the Event
Following a number of constitutional amendments, Georgia has shifted to a parliamentary system, where the bulk of political power is vested in the parliament and the prime minister. However, the current weakness of political parties poses a major challenge for this transition. For the first time in Georgia’s history, lackluster support for the ruling party’s candidate resulted in the necessity of a second round of a presidential election on November 28. The recent election has also revealed a worrying development in Georgian politics: the widening gap between political parties and young people. Georgian political parties tend to be vehicles for a particular charismatic personality and tend emerge and disappear within a few years’ time. Georgia’s citizens, particularly youth, are disillusioned with party politics, seeing it as superficial and tainted with corruption. Politically active youth often refuse to engage with political parties, regarding them with cynicism and distrust; instead, young people show a preference for spontaneous activism and taking to the streets. As Georgia undergoes reforms to complete its transformation into a parliamentary republic, this important gap calls into question whether the Georgian parliament can become a durable and effective institution if parties remain weak. In her presentation, civil society activist Vera Gogokhia discussed the role of youth in the recent Georgian elections and considered the roots of the current disconnect between political parties and young people, and whether the gap can be bridged. Comments by NED Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia Miriam Lanskoy followed.
- Vera Gogokhia, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
With comments from:
- Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia, National Endowment for Democracy
- Sally Blair, Senior Director of Fellowship Programs, National Endowment for Democracy
about the speakers
Vera Gogokhia is a leading civic activist who in 2012 founded You for Democracy, a Tbilisi-based NGO that focuses on developing a student activist network in Georgia. In 2007, she co-founded the American-Georgian Institute for Liberal Education (AGILE), alongside Ghia Nodia and Charles Fairbanks, to encourage classroom study of major works of political theory in higher education. This led to the launch of a project to promote free discussion about democratic values through youth networks nationwide. During her fellowship, she plans to examine the current rift between youth movements and political parties in Georgia, analyzing data from both sides to understand why young people reject traditional parties. Her goal is to explore avenues that would serve to bridge the gap and encourage youth engagement in Georgian politics.
Miriam Lanskoy is senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2003, she was awarded a PhD in international affairs from Boston University for her dissertation on the Russian presidency, the Chechen wars, and social and political problems of the North Caucasus. She has over twenty-years of experience analyzing political trends in Eurasia and implementing programs to promote democracy.
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Image Credit: Vakhtang Kareli