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Georgia's Long-Shot Democracy

Not Quite Liberal

At a polling station in a school in Tbilisi, October 2016.  REUTERS / David Mdzinarishvili

On October 8, Georgia held what may have been its freest, fairest, and most competitive elections in its independent history. The vote proceeded more smoothly than many observers had expected, given the rising tensions between the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the chief opposition party, what was once the ruling United National Movement (UNM), and the brief spike in political violence in the days leading up to it.

The vote marked Georgia’s third consecutive round of free elections since 2012, when a GD-led coalition overcame the odds to push the entrenched UNM out of power. Today, Georgia can certainly be called a democracy; it is home to a relatively open and competitive political and electoral environment. Yet whether the country’s democracy is a liberal one is less of a settled matter: the victorious GD may yet seek to mold the constitution to its own advantage, and hard-line factions within

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