The Quality of Government and Public Administration

In 1999, Evans and Rauch showed a strong association between government effectiveness (quality of government)—particularly the presence of a Weberian-like bureaucracy, selected and promoted on merit alone and largely autonomous from private interests—and economic growth. In 1997 and the aftermath of the Washington Consensus controversial reforms the World Bank promoted this finding in its influential World Development Report 1997 as part of its broader paradigm on “institutional quality.” Twenty years of investment in state capacity followed, by means of foreign assistance supporting the quality of public administration as a prerequisite to development. However, most reviews found the results well under expectations. This is hardly surprising, seeing that Max Weber, credited as the first promoter of the importance of bureaucracy as both the end result and the tool of government rationalization in modern times, never took for granted the autonomy of the state apparatus from private interest. He clearly stated that the power using the apparatus is the one steering the bureaucracy itself. In fact, a review of empirical evidence shows that the quality of public administration is endogenous to the quality of government more broadly and therefore can hardly be a solution in problematic contexts. The autonomy of the state from private interest is one of the most difficult objectives to accomplish in the evolution of a state, and few states have managed in contemporary times to match the achievements of Denmark or Switzerland in the 19th century. Two countries, Estonia and Georgia, are exceptional in this regard, but their success argues for the primacy of politics rather than of administration.

The Good Governance of the Corona Crisis

The years since 1989, the previous threshold crossed by the contemporary world have seen unprecedented stress on good governance, with the adoption of international conventions and treaties, disclosures like Panama Papers and spectacular enforcement of the older American Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. But during this interval the world largely stagnated on the quality of governance. If anything, governance in top income countries declined slightly, and in less affluent countries stayed the same. Only a handful of countries registered significant progress- those good governance ‘achievers’ that I covered with an international team of researchers in several books and articles, and which are less than a dozen across continents.

It is very significant in these days’ debate to monitor the performance of these countries in the fight with the epidemic and to compare them with their income and regional counterparts, and why not, with older good governance achievers, like US, UK or Scandinavian countries. Of some, everybody heard in the past two weeks, even if not researching anticorruption: South Korea and Taiwan. These two democracies handled the Corona crisis brilliantly, acted swiftly on evidence to prevent the spread of the virus, learned from previous epidemics and summoned e-government, technology (apps to trace contacts) and the excellent relation between state and citizens, based on transparency and trust.

In Latin America, the good governance achievers have the lowest fatality rates. By Easter 2020, Chile with 1.1% and Costa Rica with 0.5% clearly stood out compared to Nicaragua’s 11.1%, Bolivia’s 8.2%, Mexico’s 6.6%, Honduras’ 6.3, the Dominican Republic 5.6%, Brazil’s  5.7% and Ecuador with 4.7%. Uruguay also did well. Africa was still at the very beginning, but already you could see that Tunisia, who is among the very recent countries which started on the good governance path (see map) has been handling the situation better than its neighbors.

It is more difficult to judge in Europe, the land of the oldest good governance achievers, but there it also seems that many countries which have improved their governance in the last thirty years- Estonia, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Portugal- handled the crisis better than ‘old achievers’- countries like France or UK.

This highlights a previously neglected issue- that the equilibrium representing good governance, the state-society balance that we capture in the Index for Public Integrity, needs to be sustained over time and should not be taken for granted. Indeed, the John Hopkins University-EUI who  estimated UK and US far better prepared than Germany or South Korea should revisit their criteria and allow a larger role for political leadership. Also, would it not be nice to include Taiwan in the 195 countries GHS index, as clearly its governance was superior to many and so some lessons could be learned from there? Poor leadership (as well as a good one) matters. It can enable or deter collective action needed in such times, and both these old good governance achievers showed that, leading to loss of lives. From the “old achievers”, Germany confirmed the most, with a low fatality rate (compared to the other West European countries) owing a lot to the same non-populist, solid social contract, where the state acts on evidence and broad consultation, the citizens trust it to do so and the public and private sector, as well as different branches of government cooperate well. Still, Germany did not react as swiftly as either Korea or Taiwan, who had more cases after China originally, but managed to curtail the spread from very early on. Or Iceland, the marginal European island which made a prime minister resign in half a day after it turned out his family’s money was invested offshore and tested all skiers returning in one flight from Ischgl, an Austrian virus hotspot.

The more a government is able to draw on trust and technology, the swifter and more effective the response. Taiwan merged its national health insurance data with customs and immigration databases to create real-time alerts to help identify vulnerable populations. Iceland made an app which created a log of where the user had been to enable contact-tracing – sharing it with authorities being done on a voluntary basis, unlike Korea where quarantined people have to use it. Countries which used e-government tools to lower red tape and electronic means of payment to increase tax collection and diminish the unaccountable money volume- like Estonia or Uruguay- found it easier to handle the crisis. They had been already reducing personal contacts and paperwork between government and its citizens.

Acting rapidly on the evidence to prevent corruption, with the help of both responsible and critical citizens is also the essence of successful anticorruption: what you do after the outbreak already matters less, because it cannot be so effective even in the best of circumstances, that few countries enjoy anyway (like great impartial prosecutors and effective courts). The countries which had managed to build control of corruption successfully in recent times were thus far more prepared for this crisis even than those advanced countries which had received it as a heritage from their ancestors. Good governance needs current practice, but also returns dividends, as we could see during this pandemic.


Georgia has registered one of the most spectacular transitions to good governance in recent years. But politics have prevented its full accomplishment. A textbook example on administrative simplification and transparency, reduction of corruption resources and merit based reforms in the public sector, the country stopped short of full judicial autonomy, broad press freedom and efficient oversight systems of government favoritism. The way ahead for Georgia is to severe any connection between oligarchy and government authority, but sound bases are there to power this future revolution.

Transitions to Good Governance: Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-corruption

Why have so few countries managed to leave systematic corruption behind, while in many others modernization is still a mere façade? How do we escape the trap of corruption, to reach a governance system based on ethical universalism? In this unique book, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston lead a team of eminent researchers on an illuminating path towards deconstructing the few virtuous circles in contemporary governance. The book combines a solid theoretical framework with quantitative evidence and case studies from around the world. While extracting lessons to be learned from the success cases covered, Transitions to Good Governance avoids being prescriptive and successfully contributes to the understanding of virtuous circles in contemporary good governance.

Offering a balanced but always grounded perspective, this collection combines analytic narratives of existing virtuous circles and how they were established, with an analysis of the global evidence. In doing so the authors explain why governance is so resistant to change, and describe the lessons to be remembered for international anti-corruption efforts. Exploring the primacy of politics over economic development, and in order to understand how vicious circles can be broken, the expert contributions trace the progress of countries that have successfully transitioned. Unprecedentedly, this book goes beyond the tests of different variables to showcase human agency on every continent, and reveals why some nations make the best and others the worst of the same development legacies.

This comprehensive examination of virtuous circles of governance will appeal to all scholars with an interest in transitions, democratization, anti-corruption and good governance. Policy-makers and practitioners in the fields of international development, good governance and democracy support will find it an invaluable resource.

Reviews for this publication

“Vicious cycles, where corruption breeds corruption, present special challenges. Nevertheless, some success stories exist. The case studies in this edited volume highlight reforms that created virtuous cycles, where honesty breeds honesty. Nevertheless, the authors caution that reforms may be fragile and incomplete if policies do not shift expectations and behavior sufficiently enough toward a new, less-corrupt status quo.”

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University

Curbing Corruption: Ideas that Work

ccreportThe Legatum Institute launched a new collection of successful anti-corruption case studies. The series titled “Curbing Corruption: Ideas that Work” is published jointly by the Legatum Institute and Democracy Lab. It presents a wide range of case studies illustrating what does and what doesn’t work in the field of anti-corruption. The study wants to stimulate a discussion on corruption “that draws on implemented policies, lived experience and specific details,” according to Christian Caryl, Managing Editor of Democracy Lab and Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute. By doing so it wants to avoid the pitfall of generalising anti-corruption policies, which often only work in specific contexts and addresses a particular form of corruption.

The eleven case studies take the reader into different corners of the world and into a large spectrum of anti-corruption success stories. Christopher Eglund and Johan Engvall, for example, are looking at the reforms of the education system in Georgia after the 2003 ‘Rose Revolution’. They describe the ‘big bang’ approach of sweeping reforms introduce by Alexander Lomaia, the new minister of education and science. They turned the Georgian education system around into one that values academic performance and integrity. In another case study Richard E. Messick looks at the FBI agents that uncovered a web of corruption in Chicago’s court system. He describes how they used fake trials and informants to tackle deeply ingrained court corruption. Anna Petherick analyses the case of Brazil where authorities tried to reign in on corruption on the municipality level with ‘audit SWAT teams’ performing surprise audits of municipalities. A lottery decides which municipalities are going to be audited; this way all mayors know the next audit could be in their constituencies.

These are just three out of the eleven case studies presented by the Democracy Lab and the Legatum Institute. They illustrate the broad range of cases covered in the Curbing Corruption series. The reports were launched in September with a panel discussion titled “Fixing the Fight Against Corruption”, held at the Legatum Institute in London. The panelists stressed that there is now easy fix for corruption and that solutions always have to be adapted to local environments. The case studies give plenty of food for thought in this context. Naturally the evidence they convey remains anecdotal. Yet, they spark a debate about potential policy solutions. In the end, this is exactly why they were commissioned.

Process-tracing report on Georgia

Georgia represents a remarkable case of transformation from a particularistic regime to ethical universalism even though it remains to be a ‘borderline case. This paper looks at Georgia’s path to reform in 2004-2012. It outlines a timeline of changes, discusses political actors of change and their backgrounds and then looks at internal and external factors which were regarded as significant in bringing about such change. It is argued that the young elite, both ideologically and structurally cohesive, capitalised on the window of opportunity and implemented ‘big bang’ reform in 2004-2008. As time passed the new incumbents developed vested interest that became apparent in 2008-2012 when a state-business nexus re-emerged with the state apparatus becoming increasingly manipulated for the sake of private and group interests. These interests undermined market competition, and elite networks used state power to control economic and political structures during the Saakashvili administration. Even though concerns over particularistic practices have remained, petty bribery has decreased substantially.

Understanding governance virtuous circles: who succeeded and why

Why do some societies manage to control extraction of public resources in favour of particular interests, so that it only manifests itself occasionally, as an exception (corruption), while others societies do not and remain systemically corrupt? Is the superior performance of the first group of countries a result of what they do, or of who they are?

ERCAS is hosting a conference at the European Academy in Grunewald, Berlin from 8-12 July 2015 that will address these questions. The conference, ‘Understanding Governance Virtuous Circles. Who succeeded and why’ is part of the EU FP7 research project ANTICORRP: Anticorruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption. Our researchers have identified seven countries (Uruguay, Estonia, Chile, Costa Rica, Taiwan, South Korea and Georgia) as the most successful in achieving control of corruption in the past 25 years. We would like to address why and how these countries have been successful and what lessons can be learned from them.

Spaces are extremely limited, but the conference will be live tweeted and a conference report will be published by Cambridge University Press.



  • Dr. Mart Laar (ex-prime Minister, Estonia) (by video)
  • Prof. Robert Klitgaard (Claremont Graduate University)
  • Prof. Larry Diamond (Stanford University)
  • Mr. Philip Keefer (World Bank)
  • Prof. Michael Johnston (Colgate University)
  • Prof. Adam Graycar (Australian National University)
  • Prof. Eric Uslaner (University of Maryland)
  • Prof. Ryan Saylor (University of Tulsa)
  • Dr. Mark Plattner (Journal of Democracy)
  • Dr. Natalia Matukhno (Centre for the Study of Public Policy/School of Government and Public Policy)
  • Dr. Martin Mendelski (University of Trier)
  • Dr. Mark Pyman (TI Defense and Security UK)
  • Dr. Daniel Buquet (Universidad de la República de Uruguay)
  • Prof. Bruce Wilson (University of Central Florida Costa Rica)
  • Prof. Patricio Navia (Universidad Diego Portales/New York University)
  • Prof. Paul Felipe Lagunes (Columbia University)
  • Dr. Valts Kalnins (Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS)
  • Dr. Alexander Kupatadze (University College London)
  • Dr. Marianne Camerer (University of Cape Town)
  • Dr. Halyna Kokhan (UNDP Ukraine)
  • Dr. Anastassia Obydenkova (Harvard University)
  • Prof. Christian Göbel (University of Vienna)
  • Dr. Yong-sung You (The Australian National University)
  • Dr. Mihaly Fazekas (Corvinius University of Budapest)
Agenda Virtuous Circle Conference – Current as of 05 July 2015.


Conference papers:


Helpful documents:



The Splintering of Postcommunist Europe

There are two radically different versions of the postcommunist narrative. One tells the triumphal tale of the only world region in which the reforms recommended by the “Washington consensus” worked. The other and more realistic account speaks of a historic window of opportunity that lasted for only a quarter-century, during which efforts by the West and patriotic elites of Central and Eastern Europe managed to drag the region into Europe proper, leaving Europe and Russia pitted against each other along the old “civilizational” border between them. This essay argues that while Institutional choices matter in the postcommunist world, geopolitical and civilizational boundaries still set the horizons of political possibility.

Background paper on Georgia

Georgia had a terrible reputation for corruption, both in Soviet times and under the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze (1992-2003). After the ‘Rose Revolution’ that led to Shevardnadze’s early resignation, many proclaimed that the government of new President Mikheil Saakashvili was a success story because of its apparent rapid progress in fighting corruption and promoting neo-liberal market reforms. His critics, however, saw only a façade of reform and a heavy hand in other areas, even before the war with Russia in 2008. Saakashvili’s second term (2008-13) was much more controversial – his supporters saw continued reform under difficult circumstances, his opponents only the consolidation of power.Under Saakashvili Georgia does indeed deserve credit for its innovative reforms that were highly successful in reducing ‘low-level’ corruption. At the top, however, many UNM officials saw themselves as exempt: ‘high-level’ corruption continued and even expanded as the economy grew. Georgian Dream has not restored the ancien régime, but has allowed some patronage and clientelism to creep back into the system. The new Georgia has gained a reputation for ‘selective prosecution’; but some of this is dealing with causes célèbres from the Saakashvili era, while some is clearly persecution of the UNM.

New Book Shows Links between Politics and Business in Post-Revolution Georgia

In the past years Georgia has been praised for its consistent improvement in the fight against endemic corruption after the Rose Revolution. Important reforms in government institutions, such as a complete overhaul in the police and measures to improve the business environment, are believed to have contributed to its achievements. Despite such positive developments, however, some things did not change. This is what the book Who Owned Georgia, published jointly by Transparency International Georgia and the journalist Paul Rimple, brings to light: how the close (and intransparent) relationship between government and business interests was maintained during the Saakashvili administration.

The book examines in detail the persons and companies who own large shares in the advertisement, broadcasting, telecommunications, privatisation, mining, oil import and distribution, and pharmaceutical sector during the period 2003-2012. According to their findings, the collapse of the Shevardnadze regime was indeed followed by a restructuring of main economic sectors in the country, but during this process the close connections of politicians in the new government were benefited from the re-privatisation efforts conducted by Saakashvili. As mentioned in the book, “The new government, its friends and their relatives became owners of newly emerging companies built on the ashes of the old” (p. 6).

According to Mr. Rimple, a strong motivation for the book was the fact that so little of the connections between company owners and government is publicly known in Georgia. That does not mean, however, that citizens are oblivious to such relationships – gossip on who owns what is widespread, and many people even make deliberate decisions to avoid certain services or products based on the rumors they hear. Due to the need for public and reliable information on this topic, Transparency International initiated a project to collect ownership information of main companies in the aforementioned sectors, which culminated in the publication.

One of the main obstacles for the research work was the fact that many of the registered owners are offshore shell companies, thus making it difficult to identify the true owners of some large companies in Georgia. This phenomenon was observed in many of the sectors under scrutiny. In the telecommunications sector, for instance, the research found that ownership of the two biggest internet providers in Georgia is quite obscure. The company Silknet, which holds 76% of broadband subscriptions in the country, was owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Another artifice used by Silknet to further conceal its owners was a change in its status from limited liability to joint stock company, whereby it was not obliged to reveal its shareholders. The other big internet company, Caucasus Online, has a similar story: its main owner is a company also registered in the British Virgin Islands, which in turn is partly owned by other two companies on which no ownership information is available.

This interesting initiative is an important contribution in identifying considerable transparency gaps in main business sectors in Georgia. According to the authors, the goal was to offer readers “a travel guide into the amorphous labyrinth of who owned Georgia” (p. 8), and this is done a very innovative way. This publication can also serve as a good example for initiatives in many other countries where the close and obscure links between business and politics pose serious corruption risks.

The picture featured above is from


Batory Foundation Launches Website on Political Finance in 7 Countries

The Stefan Batory Foundation, in cooperation with other seven NGOs*, has launched the website, devoted to analysing the regulation systems of campaign and political party financing in 7 countries: Armenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia and Poland.

The website is the result of a research project initiated in February 2012, whose goal was to examine political finance regulation in each country from the perspective of the mechanisms protecting policy-making against undue influence of interest groups. In addition to preparing the seven individual country reports, the project also conducted a comparative analysis of the different systems and highlighted advantages and disadvantages of each one, emphasising arrangements that can be seen as best practice.

The country reports are published on the website and cover the specific features of each regulatory system, including an assessment of the effectiveness of adopted solutions, case studies and policy recommendations. In addition to the country-specific recommendations, three common recommendations for the participating countries have been developed: (a) to increase availability of information on donors and original invoices and receipts on party expenditures; (b) to  strengthen the role of public institutions responsible for the oversight of party financing; and (c) to provide long-term financing of political parties from the public budget. The analysis and recommendations are published in English and Russian language versions.

A more detailed analysis of the country reports allows for a closer overview of how the regulatory systems differ from country to country and the particularly weaknesses that each country’s system presents.  The Armenia country report shows, for instance, how the lack of sanctions to false financial reports by political parties or illegal donations to election funds negatively affects the political finance environment in the country. In Estonia, the possibility of cash donations severely hinders transparency regarding the funds that political parties and campaigns receive. In Georgia, differently than in other of the selected countries, the country report emphasises issues related to the unequal application of electoral laws to different parties, which jeopardises the fairness of political competition and the electoral process. Apart from specific issues that each country faces, there are common obstacles to more integrity and equity in political finance in some of the countries, such as the need for restrictions on private or corporate donations, and for increased transparency and detail in the disclosure of donations and expenditures.

The participants to the project hope that the initiative will stimulate further discussion on the need for reforms in the political party financing sector and further advocacy efforts. In the long term, this initiative aims to determine positive changes in the financing of political parties and to contribute to improving transparency in this field as well as to prevent corruption.


*The other organisations contributing to this project are: Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland); Stanczyk Institute of Civic Thought Foundation (Poland); Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul” (Moldova); Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) (Georgia); Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre (Armenia); Transparency International Czech Republic; Transparency International Estonia; and Open Society Forum (Mongolia).


Report Assesses TV Media Environment in Georgia

The interference of politics into Georgian media, particularly in the television sector, has been discussed in many studies on the country. A new report by Transparency International Georgia, released last month, re-examines this issue in light of the current electoral scenario. The study – entitled “Georgia’s Television Landscape” – finds that, despite recent changes in the legislation regulating the media sector, several broadcasters and providers in the sector are kept under the influence of political parties, or face attacks and intimidation.

The report highlights that the high political polarisation that has characterised the current electoral campaign has been reflected in partisan reporting from virtually all main TV stations, which take either a clear pro-government stance or openly support the opposition candidates. Based on survey data from Caucasus Research Resource Centres (CRRC), the report shows that this partisanship in TV media is clear to most viewers, as the majority of respondents claimed to perceive none of the channels with daily news coverage as politically independent. According to another report on media sustainability published by the organisation IREX, the Georgian government exercises pressure over TV outlets in several ways, such as favouring pro-government media with state advertising, pressuring private advertisers to not collaborate with independent media channels, offering financial support to television channels that commit to provide an allegedly objective coverage of current affairs, and also by carrying out selective tax inspections. TI-Georgia’s study also describes how several companies with strategic positions in the television sector have faced a series of difficulties in the past months. Some of the examples mentioned refer to investigative journalists having their equipment stolen, service providers to opposition-oriented broadcasters receiving fines after a tax audit, and channels supporting the opposition coalition having tens of thousands of satellite antennas seized based on vote-buying allegations, among other things.

In a country where television is the main source of current information for most citizens – about 80% in Tbilisi and 92% outside the capital –, the implications of this political polarisation on the quality of information that people receive are tremendous. Survey data from CRRC show that the two most popular TV stations are still the pro-government Imedi and Rustavi 2. However, the role of other channels with a more critical view of the government has increased due to funding (either direct or through advertising) by the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, which is led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

In the past years, important legislation has been introduced to minimise some of the problems that have been associated with the political influence over TV media in the country. An important achievement, for instance, were changes in the Law on Broadcasting which required license holders to disclose beneficiary owners, thereby improving TV ownership transparency. In the past months, the introduction of must-carry and must-offer regulation ahead of the elections has also had an important positive impact in allowing a larger share of the population to access TV stations with news coverage that is critical of the government. The law in principle “requires that service providers must carry certain TV channels with public value content (e.g. channels of the public broadcaster, local channels or channels with national news and current affairs programs) in their packages, while TV stations must offer their signal to service providers without discriminating against selected companies”, as mentioned in TI-Georgia’s report, and its passing was a major win for the advocacy campaign entitled “This Affects You Too”, organised by civil society representatives.

Despite these advancements, TI-Georgia emphasises some recommendations to further improve the TV media environment in the country. The report calls for impartiality and transparency in investigations related to media outlets, thorough investigation of intimidation measures taken against journalists and other media professionals. It also highlights the role of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) in monitoring the implementation of the must-carry and must-offer regulation and in improving the transparency of license holders’ ownership and the financing sources of broadcasters. Finally, TI-Georgia argues that the must-carry and must-offer obligations should not be restricted to the pre-election period, but should be maintained during and after the elections.

More information is available on TI-Georgia’s website. The picture featured above is from


Georgian Civil Society Coalition Calls for Changes in Electoral Legislation

In the run-up to the next parliamentary elections in Georgia, to take place in early October, a civil society campaign has sparked the debate on the need for changes in the country’s electoral legislation. The campaign entitled “This Affects You Too” has brought to the public attention potential restrictions to political liberties and participation created by recent amendments to the electoral and criminal codes of Georgia, and has put forward its own agenda to improve electoral regulation in the country.

The campaign was strongly motivated by changes passed by Parliament last December, which effectively restricted the possibility of companies and foreign individuals to finance candidates running for Parliament. Moreover, a new law regulating political and civil non-profit organisations have established similar restrictions to any individual or association that openly endorses a candidate or party. Critics have claimed that these changes are obscure and have the objective of limiting financing to the opposition, more specifically to the coalition led by wealthy businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, after he declared his intention of running in the elections. Activists also claimed that the legal changes impose considerable restrictions to freedom of speech, and create room for wide interpretation that can be used to limit political competition.

Following the introduction of the proposed amendments, a coalition of NGOs and media outlets, supported by the Open Society Georgia Foundation, launched on February 13th, 2012 the first phase of the campaign called “This Affects You Too”, where a petition calling for the revision of the controversial amendments was disseminated among Georgian civil society. Around 170 NGOs and media entities, as well as 1500 individuals, signed the petition, which was presented to Parliament on February 17th along with a package of legislative proposals elaborated by the coalition.

Among the proposals were measures to prevent fraud in and increase transparency during vote-counting procedures, to restrict the use of public resources for campaign activities of the governing party, including the participation of public officials at campaign events, and to ensure equal media coverage for political parties during the election period. As part of the campaign, its organising members have also held information meetings in several Georgian cities updating the population on the restrictions imposed by the amendments passed.

The campaign has already been partly successful in creating pressure for changes in the legislation, as some of its proposed amendments were adopted by Parliament in April. In early May the coalition started the second stage of the campaign, focusing more on advocating for changes to improve the media environment ahead of the parliamentary elections, with an emphasis on allowing candidates equal access to media and increasing coverage of the elections, in order to make more information available to citizens. The campaign has also made an appeal to the government to invite international observer missions to monitor the electoral process in October. However, increasing tensions among the running party and the opposition raise uncertainties about whether the campaign will succeed in bringing about all necessary changes to guarantee the fairness of the coming elections.

The picture above was featured on and is credited to InterPressNews.


Georgian NGOs Join Forces in Election Monitoring Initiative

Three Georgian non-governmental organisations – International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Transparency International Georgia (TI-Georgia) – have launched together the ‘Elections Portal’, which will collect information on violations regarding the next parliamentary elections, to be held in October.

The project consists mainly of a website where citizens and organisations can find relevant information about the elections and can themselves report alleged electoral violations throughout the election period. The aim is to document all incidents in a map of the country and point out the most vulnerable areas. In addition to the website, the project has implemented a system where individuals can send information about alleged electoral offenses via text messages from any cell phone service network.

The Elections Portal is administered by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy – ISFED. The project received the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the East-West Management Institute (EWMI).


Handbook on Freedom of Information in South Caucasus Launched

Transparency International’s chapters in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have published together the report entitled “Handbook on the Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus Countries”. The study was produced as part of the regional research project “Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus”, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

The report found that, although all three countries have overall made significant progress toward formally guaranteeing freedom of information to its citizens, some gaps in the implementation of FOI legislation remain. With regards to the oversight mechanisms, for instance, the study points out that only Azerbaijan has established an independent body to monitor compliance to the respective laws, but its effectiveness is questioned.

The study also reports results of a survey that examined the degree of awareness and knowledge among the population about their fundamental right to know. The majority of Azerbaijanis and Georgians declared that they would not exercise their right of freedom to information in order to access public information related to the officials’ salary, public procurement, party financing, defense, education and not even private ownership, whereas in Armenia willingness to actively make use of access to information rights was higher, reaching 71%.

The making of the report included additionally a test of different public agencies in performing their duty to provide requested information under the relevant laws. The handbook also provides a detailed compilation of international and national standards relevant for South Caucasus region on freedom of information, thus offering a primary source for research to anyone interested in the right to access to information in the region.

More information is available on The detailed results of the survey – Caucasus Barometer 2011 – can be accessed on the website of the Caucasus Research Resource Centers.

Media Freedom Still Restricted in Georgia

Under President Saakashvili, the Georgian government has implemented numerous reforms, including measures directed at tackling corruption. However, there is continuous evidence that the country still needs significant improvements in terms of press freedom, and that the government maintains strong influence over media reports.

A recent case involving the suspicious death of a man in policy custody renewed concerns about tight political control over media outlets, as all three nation-wide TV channels broadcast very similar reports, focusing on the politicization of the case by the opposition instead of exploring the facts related to suspect’s death.

According to citizens and investigative journalists, it is recurrent that political reporting by mainstream media in the country appears to be coordinated. Moreover, critical reporting of the government is rare. Two of the main TV stations in Georgia are privately owned, but headed by individuals connected to the current administration. The third main station is state-owned.

International organizations such as Transparency International and Freedom House have pointed out to weaknesses in the country’s democratic development, particularly with regards to media freedom. According to Freedom House’s assessment, Georgia is still considered to be partly free, and the country’s position in Reporters Without Borders’s freedom index has deteriorated significantly since 2007, from 66 to 105. According to survey data, this situation has contributed to weaken citizens’ trust in the media over the years.

For more details read the article “Little media freedom in Saakashvili’s Georgia” on The picture shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Georgia: Corruption Developments and Anti-Corruption Activities since 1990s

The improvements made in post-Rose Revolution years with regard to the fight against corruption are evident and they brought about concrete results in the country. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that this should not be considered as a reason for reducing the intensity of anti-corruption reforms. On the contrary, further steps should be planned and taken by the state with the aim of combating corruption with the support of the civil society.

Georgia: Corruption Developments and Anti-Corruption Activities since 1990s

The improvements made in post-Rose Revolution years with regard to the fight against corruption are evident and they brought about concrete results in the country. Nevertheless, everyone agrees that this should not be considered as a reason for reducing the intensity of anti-corruption reforms. On the contrary, further steps should be planned and taken by the state with the aim of combating corruption with the support of the civil society.

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