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Compromising democracy: state building in Saakashvili's Georgia

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This article argues that the since the Rose Revolution, the Georgian government led by President Mikheil Saakashvili has created a false dichotomy between democracy and state building. They have prioritized the latter. Initially, in areas such as reducing bureaucracy, combating petty corruption, improving tax collection, service delivery and infrastructure, the government succeeded in rebuilding the Georgian state. However, because issues of democracy were ignored, efforts to strengthen the Georgian state were not as successful as they might have been. Moreover, the absence of sufficient democracy has contributed to poor decision making, most notably in the run-up to the August war, which ultimately has undermined the major state building accomplishments in Georgia since 2004. Accordingly, any efforts to repair the damage from that war and rebuild the state will be unsuccessful unless they incorporate meaningful democratic reforms.
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Keywords: Georgia; Mikheil Saakashvili; Rose Revolution; democracy; state building

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, USA

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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