Building public confidence and maximising participation of disadvantaged groups in democratic processes through transparent elections in Georgia
Since the ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003 the expectations of Georgian and international community that Georgia would firmly follow the path of democratic development were high. The first wave of swift reforms created high expectations in Georgia, while for some time Georgian pro-western government was often portrayed as carrier of democratic values and principles. However, the later developments, exacerbated by Georgian-Russian war of August 2008, proved that the expectations were too high. The realities created by the war of August 2008 made the society at large reconsider their expectations and created feeling of distrust.
In order to support the democratic development of Georgia, the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus regional office in Tbilisi with support of the EC initiated a project in 2007 which sought to contribute to the success of the elections in 2008 by providing much needed knowledge of and confidence in democratic structures and procedures among the Georgian electorate. The project sought to reach out to the most vulnerable groups of women, ethnic minorities and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
- Help foster access of disadvantaged groups to active political life in Georgia;
- Contribute to increased transparency of and confidence in democratic processes in Georgia;
- Make the election process more transparent and comprehensible for women, ethnic minorities and IDPs, and thereby mobilise them to participate in election processes at various levels in the run-up to and during parliamentary elections.
The project activities covered almost the whole Georgia, including Kvemo Kartli (Marneuli and Bolnisi), Shida Kartli (Gori), and Samtskhe-Javakheti (Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe) among others.
The project is bringing together different stakeholders such as NGOs and municipalities in the project implementation areas; regional media and journalists; practitioners and academia working on democratization and human rights. Through the following activities:
- Voter education programme specifically designed for Armenian and Azeri communities in Georgia
- Participation programme for the regional women community leaders
- PR campaign to represent disadvantaged groups
- Training programme for journalists
- Capacity and confidence building in local communities, including the municipalities in Akhaltsikhe, Batumi, Gori and Kutaisi.
- Summer school for the women community leaders to enhance their leadership skills.
The Project seeks to:
- Create informed electorate about election procedures and voter’s rights in the ethnic minority settlements;
- Increase the awareness of the female beneficiaries of the project on participation and decision-making;
- Facilitate the media coverage of the constraints of the project target groups;
- Prepare the local authorities in the target provinces to observe responsibilities regarding voters’ needs;
- Enhance knowledge on leadership, coalition building, NGO promotion, women’s rights, etc of the project target groups;
- Increase awareness of the Georgian society at large on participation of disadvantaged groups in decision-making.
Target groups: Representatives of ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani minorities in Georgia; women community leaders; journalists from various Georgian provinces; IDP communities.
Final beneficiaries: The Georgian electorate, especially female voters and Georgian citizens of various different ethnic background, as well as IDPs.