The International Day of Democracy and our work

Dear friends,

I am writing this short letter to summarize our work and thereby celebrate the International Day of Democracy. This day has an even greater significance during the pandemic, which has become one of the most significant factors in the decline of democracy, rising authoritarianism and increased polarization.

We dedicated this year to empowering political parties and civil movements that are more loyal to democratic values, supporting local leaders who fight for human rights, equality and civil integrity, and cultivating professional, positive discussions on politics.All of this became possible through concrete actions and tireless work by our team members. In Georgia, our goal was to more fully represent the voice and the interests of the society in the political arena of the country so that we could better reflect the needs of our citizens in politics. For this reason, this year, we helped urban residents prepare 7 guidebooks for social-economic development, each of which presents “civil viewpoints” for development. We asked outstanding experts from several fields to create 5 documents on “political viewpoints” that offer qualified and practical ways for solving municipal or national issues.

To better deliver this information and these demands to key political decision-makers on these matters of national importance, we held up to 30 political dialogues and reporting meetings with groups of civil servants. Politicians and civil servants often collaborated with citizens to resolve various issues, and they often reached an agreement. All of these demands qualifications, information and knowledge, which is why we trained over 100 activists and citizens through 80 training sessions and seminars. As a result, they are better equipped to lead their own work, represent their communities or the interests of their cities and organize politically for these purposes. For further organizational and financial support, we also provided 5 project grants. We also managed to localize 5 modern technological apps – CONSUL – into Georgian. This app will help them work more efficiently and establish strong connections with different groups of society.

Our Democracy Schools and their graduates stand at the forefront of this mission. Our alumni came together to create 5 action plans that aim to fight against antidemocratic tendencies both on the national and local levels. I am happy to say that many of the Democracy School graduates (35 to be more exact!) are participating in the local elections this year as representatives of different parties. I am confident that they will create the foundation for qualitatively new, better political conduct in our assemblies and city halls, thereby helping our citizens solve real problems. I would like to wish all of them victory at these elections.

We actively collaborate with the political parties active in Georgia. Despite the lack of trust and the high levels of scepticism towards them in society, they still represent a crucial part of the democratic chain. We continued and expanded close and intensive partnerships with the parties to help them better perform the important duties laid upon them.This year we hosted up to 10 meetings among multiple parties on various critical topics; we created 8 political documents and studies for coalitions of parties or select organizations; this year, for the first time, we created an inner-party democracy rating system which rates the quality of transparency and democracy within a party; we also created a qualitative, ambitious strategy document on election administration and an extensive review of the possibilities for electronic voting.

To this date, we have held 30 educational training sessions and seminars for parties on topics like strategic and organizational development, aspects of economic and social development policy, women’s participation in politics, fundraising and public speaking. We helped 4 relatively new political parties create a development strategy plan. We also created ultramodern digital applications that will help them better prepare and manage their internal decisions, create a strong connection with their electorate and obtain more information on the political interests and the demographics of their members, supporters or election precincts. This represents one more step in their journey towards a better fulfilment of their duties in developing democracy. As the local elections are looming closer, we are trying to encourage the Georgian political parties to adopt a more constructive code of political conduct. Our pre-election program and the website (which will be hopefully promptly updated) serves exactly this mission.

I am pleased to say that this year, after a short pause, we have recommenced our work in Ukraine. We collaborated with Ukrainian civil activists on 5 anti-corruption action plans. Through our support, they will soon host interesting events very soon.Along with Ukraine, we are expanding our work to other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This year, the Kishinev School of Democracy will be established, creating a foundation for a platform for multiparty dialogue. We will also support political parties in Kyrgyzstan so that they are better able to organize and evolve into stronger political institutes.

Naturally, we would not have been able to do this alone. I would like to express my gratitude for their support, partnership and friendship to: Embassies of the Netherlands in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society Foundations, Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy and the European Union. We are eternally grateful for such collaboration and their contribution through their efforts to the preservation of opportunities for democratic progress in our counties.

I would like to congratulate the EECMD team, our partners and every citizen who treasures democratic values on this day. You are the perfect example of the fact that there are still so many talented, energetic people in our country who never lose the strength necessary for following a true and meaningful path, however long and challenging it may be.

With this short letter, I would like to summarize our work and thereby celebrate the International Day of Democracy. This day has an even greater significance during the pandemic, which has become one of the most significant factors in the decline of democracy, rising authoritarianism and increased polarization.