Georgia remains among “partly free” countries, but it has been upgraded to “electoral democracy” in an annual report by the U.S.-based rights group, Freedom House, released on January 16.
Freedom in the World 2013 examines the political and civil rights in 195 countries and 14 territories around the world and covers developments of 2012. Each country or territory is given a status “free”, “partly free” or “not free” based on points in political rights and civil liberties categories on a scale from 1 to 7 with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.
According to the report Georgia’s political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 in 2012 “due to the country’s first peaceful handover of power to an opposition party after parliamentary elections that were judged free and fair by international observers and featured more pluralistic media coverage.”
It has also contributed to regaining by Georgia status of “electoral democracy” – the category from which the country was dropped by the Freedom House in its 2009 report for the parliamentary and snap presidential elections held in Georgia in 2008.
“There were some positive developments in Eurasia. The most notable was in Georgia, which saw an improvement in its political rights rating after the opposition Georgian Dream party won competitive parliamentary elections. The vote led to an orderly and democratic transfer of power, the first in the nation’s history, and the campaign featured more pluralistic media,” the report reads.
It, however, also says that despite gains Georgia “finished the year on a less than satisfying note” after the new government arrested some of the former officials “prompting claims of a political witch hunt.”
Georgia’s rating in civil liberties remained unchanged at 3, according to the report.
The report by Freedom House annual report ranks breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia under the category of “disputed territories.” Like in previous reports South Ossetia is ranked as “not free” and Abkhazia as “partly free.”
But in case of Abkhazia the report notes improvement in this breakaway region’s political rights rating “due to the competiveness of parliamentary elections held in March, which allowed a shift toward independent candidates and away from either government or traditional opposition parties.”
Reference here is apparently made to the fact that about 26 seats in breakaway Abkhazia’s 35-member Parliament were won by independent candidates – those nominated by “initiative groups” and not by political parties.