Joel Lazarus On Political Parties And Western Democracy Promotion In Georgia


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Joel Lazarus On Political Parties And Western Democracy Promotion In Georgia

  1. 1. Promoting Democracy? Political Parties and Western Democracy Promotion in Georgia Work in progress, May 2009 Joel Lazarus, DPhil candidate Dept of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford
  2. 2. Caveats… • ‘…if democracy cannot answers Preliminary analysis and be consolidated in • Sacrificing details for comprehensiveness Georgia, it is not clear where it can be • Food for discussion and thought… consolidated. As difficult as the challenges are, the outlook in Georgia still looks brighter than in most of the rest of the nondemocratic world’ Lincoln Mitchell (2008: 6)
  3. 3. Georgia’s democratic potential Cons avoided: ‘…if democracy cannot be consolidated in  Natural resource wealth (Ross 2001)  Oligarchic it is not clear (?) (Stefes 2006) be Georgia, economic structure where it can  Clan party politics (Collinsas the challenges are, the consolidated. As difficult 2002)  Ethnic party politics (Barany & Moser 2005) outlook in Georgia still looks brighter than in most  Military as autonomous political force (Geddes 1999) of the rest of the nondemocratic world’ Lincoln Mitchell (2008: 6)
  4. 4. Georgia’s democratic potential Pros:  Good social indicators: high literacy rates and education levels  Open to effects of democratic “diffusion” (Whitehead 1996; Brinks & Coppedge 2005) and of “linkage” (Levitsky & Way 2002).  Unchallenged ideological position of democracy  Pro-democratic revolution and explicitly pro-democratic leadership  The largest regional per capita beneficiary of democracy promotion and development aid  If Finkel et al (2007) are right we should see positive outcomes in Georgia.
  5. 5. ‘…if democracy cannot be consolidated in Georgia, it is not clear where it can be consolidated. As difficult as the challenges are, the outlook in Georgia still looks brighter than in most of the rest of the nondemocratic world’ Lincoln Mitchell (2008: 6)
  6. 6. Opposition politician clashes with riot police, May 6th 2009
  7. 7. Georgian politics since independence • Civil war 1992-3 • No constitutional transfer of power • Post-Rose Revolution (November 2003)  Media/NGO repression  Electoral fraud and intimidation  Large-scale protests violently crushed  Opposition boycott of parliament  Current street protests and violence  Intense polarisation of party politics
  8. 8. Georgia’s political parties Georgian parties’ traits accord with Carothers’ (2006: 4) ‘standard lament’ about political parties in ‘new or struggling democracies’ around the world Salient traits • Highly centralised, leader-centric organisations • Ideological vagueness: nationalism as dominant ideological force • Informal “rules of the game” • Opaque, illicit financing • Personal insults and violence instead of debate • Dominant ruling parties: administrative resource, patron-client networks, electoral fraud
  9. 9. The research question Why, after almost two decades of independence, do Georgia’s political parties and party system remain so weakly institutionalised?
  10. 10. Research methods Qualitative methods and techniques: • Primary and secondary literature sources • Semi-structured interviews with: • Georgian political elites; NGO leaders; academics • Western aid donors, providers, diplomats • Elite interviewing • Process tracing • Discourse analysis Secondary quantitative data • Data collection on aid flows
  11. 11. Political parties as bellweather of democracy Parties – the indispensable element • Schmitter 1999: • Symbolic integration – policy and ideology choices • Electoral structuration – recruiting citizens into electoral campaigns and public office • Governing function – forming governments and providing internal structure to legislative process • Aggregative function – aggregating and articulating voters’ preferences • Representation – linking citizens to political system - the ‘demos’ to democracy
  12. 12. Standard definitions of party and party system institutionalisation Institutions: ‘[R]ules and procedures that structure social interaction by constraining and enabling actors’ behaviour’ (Helmke & Levitsky 2006: 5) Institutionalisation: the process by which the rules of the political game are established and politicians’ and parties’ behaviour becomes patterned and predictable …Rules and behaviour
  13. 13. Weakly institutionalised parties Internal External Structural systemness decisional autonomy Attitudinal value infusion reification Randall & Svåsand 2002: 7 Almost almost parties, even the ruling party, score very poorly agains all but the ‘decisional autonomy’ dimension…
  14. 14. Weakly institutionalised party system Process or rules-focused approach: • Stability of formal rules of the game: constitution, electoral code (Cox 1997; Bielasiak 2002) Party-focused approach • Stability of system components – parties (Pedersen 1979; Laakso & Taagepera’s ENEP 1979; Mainwaring & Scully 1995)
  15. 15. Incumbents build dominant party: Opposition seeks clientelism; administrative resource; to oust electoral fraud government by any means Informally patterned and predictable: The vicious cycle of Power changes ‘Zero-sum’ unconstitutional politics in hands through politics: Georgia?... unconstitutional means. Those win by any linked to former means regime are punished Incumbents’ fear of retribution
  16. 16. “The mistakes of the past should be analyzed so as not to get locked in the same vicious circle tomorrow…How long should the authorities and the opposition compete with each other in radicalism?” Giorgi Targamadze, Leader of Christian Democratic Party 6th March, 2009
  17. 17. Preliminary answers Domestic variables • Formal institutionalist explanations often confuse cause with effect (endogeneity) • e.g. constitutional or electoral code choices, amendments not made in a political vacuum • Poor leadership (agentic factors) best explained by structural factors • Georgia’s structural factors explain why charismatic, impulsive leaders with authoritarian tendencies come to power  Alternative socially-grounded, “substantive” approach/definition of party and party system institutionalisation
  18. 18. Preliminary answers Domestic variables continued… • Path-dependency • Political • No early experience of democratic politics • Socio-economic • Pre-Soviet feudalism • Late and limited urbanisation/industrialisation • Bureaucratic • No tradition of rational bureaucratic governance  Soviet: ‘patrimonial communism’ (Kitschelt et al 1999) • Bureaucratic/governance - patron-client structures, fiefdoms • Social – privatisation of social sphere  Post-Soviet: weak social cleavages -> weak citizen-party linkages  Weak party and party system institutionalisation
  19. 19. Preliminary answers Domestic variables continued… • Political culture inimical to party institutionalisation/ democratic development • Low levels of organisation/mobilisation; • Very low levels of trust in parties, other political institutions; • Lack of pro-democratic values: tolerance, self-reliance, restraint
  20. 20. Preliminary answers Domestic variables continued… • Territorial/sovereignty issues • Nationalism dominates political scene • Ruling party/president stress need for unity • Political opponents dismissed as traitors • War and political instability inimical to general processes of social and economic development
  21. 21. Preliminary answers International variables Western democracy promotion aid and diplomacy • ‘Political democracy promotion’ (Carothers 2009) – backing “reformers” to exclusion of all others • Ignoring, even praising unfree and unfair elections • Ignoring constitutional/electoral code manipulations • (Perceived?) shift in funding from CS/media to direct government support after Rose Revolution
  22. 22. Inherent tension in Western democracy promotion foreign policy and diplomacy Self-interest trumps principled foreign policy • Stability rather than democracy/HR the objective  Political democracy promotion – individuals over values  Ignoring democratic/hr transgressions  Hypocrisy  Democracy discredited
  23. 23. Understanding the current political crisis Systemic crisis • US/EU backing to revolutionary government  Greatly diminished sense of domestic accountability  Constitutional and electoral code manipulation  Oppositional disillusionment and distrust with ‘West’ and ‘democracy  Unconstitutional political struggle  Undermines potential effects of diffusion, linkage, leverage?
  24. 24. Understanding the current political crisis Social crisis • Painful economic/social reforms • Society as object of, not partner in, reform project • Lack of communication/explanation/empathy  Huge sense of social alienation and anger  Non-parliamentary opposition feeds into this
  25. 25. What can/must realistically be achieved in Georgia? Systemic stability not “democracy” • Agreement over formal rules of the game  New constitutional and electoral agreements  De jure and de facto agreements  Georgia achieves level of Eastern European states Social stability • Conciliation and humility on part of government
  26. 26. Party aid in Georgia Party aid providers U.S. Party Institutes (NDI, IRI): • NDI very (pro-)active in revolution • IRI chief now government minister  Issue of legitimacy, neutrality in eyes of opposition
  27. 27. Party aid in Georgia Party aid providers European organisations: • NIMD large multi-party project: ‘Political Institutions in Georgia • Small FCO/GFSIS multi-party project • German stiftungen’s partisan approach • KAS-Christian Democrats • FNS-Republicans
  28. 28. Party aid in Georgia Objectives II. Professionalisation of party cadre and electoral campaigns III. Internal democratisation IV. Inter-party co-operation and consensus- building
  29. 29. Party aid in Georgia Outcomes – Pluses • Valuable technical assistance to party leadership and lower party cadre (multi-party and partisan) – professionalisation of parties; – strategy – political skills • Stiftungen building deeper relationships, achieving more
  30. 30. Party aid in Georgia Outcomes - Minuses II. Professionalisation  Very little increase in programmatic content  More leader-centric party structures (?)  Playing field even less level? III. Internal democratisation  Failed attempts at internal elections (Conservative Party)  Internally democratic parties not electorally successful IV. Inter-party co-operation and consensus-building (NIMD)  Polarisation and conflict worsened since project commenced in 2007
  31. 31. Multi-party aid’s five ‘central dilemmas’ Political and institutional obstacles party aid providers face both from recipient societies and from within party aid organisations themselves: • Time discrepancy – Long-term goals vs short-term needs • Talking local, acting global – Local assessments vs “cookie-cutter” solutions • Formal focus, informal realities – Building formal institutions vs formal institutions ignored/undermined • Technical solutions for political and cultural problems – Donors/providers talk about the ‘cultural’ but offer the technical • Limited legitimacy – Problematic criteria for party inclusion; picking local NGO partners; “dancing on the line of internal affairs”
  32. 32. Holistic approach to understanding effects of Western interventions Detailed single case studies are important and valid but they are also useful as a prism through which to view the effects of other aid/diplomatic interventions and how they can conflict and undermine each other • Party aid efforts undermined by dominant effects of Western foreign policy/diplomacy • Development aid also channelled according to foreign policy objectives e.g. MCA, direct budget support • “Civil society” funding undermining party political (business, state) development • NGO sector as disseminator of values/technology of socialisation vs NGO sector as retardant of development?
  33. 33. Reforming Western foreign policy and diplomacy • Foreign aid in all forms remains first and foremost tool of foreign policy (Morganthau 1962) • Realism is too extreme  ‘Ethical realism’: • Reject political democracy promotion: values over individuals; substance over processes • Minimise negative conditionality; maximise and specify positive conditionality • Internationalise democracy promotion institutions e.g. OSCE EOM • Lead by example e.g. democratisation of global governance institutions (IFIs, WTO)
  34. 34. Conclusion • Political institutions as embedded in and reflective of society and political culture • Less optimistic prospects for substantive, participatory democracy in Georgia • Understanding weakly institutionalised parties and party system in this social context • Domestic factors (path dependency, culture, territory.sovereignty) best explain weak party/system institutionalisation
  35. 35. Conclusion • Inherent tension in Western democracy promotion  Hypocrisy  Discredited democracy • Western ‘political democracy promotion’ as partial explanatory variable of recent political instability/weak party development • Value but limits of technical party aid; dangers/ethics of US party aid; merits of German approach • Systemic and social crisis not democratic crisis  Achievable breakthrough = establishing formal rules of game; process of social conciliation