Building Consensus to Advance Democratic Decision-Making in Georgia

In Georgia, IRI launched a working group comprised of diverse voices that developed and proposed polices to strengthen the country’s economy. While Georgian politicians are well-versed in democratic norms and processes, persistent political polarization and an uneven political playing field prevents the government of Georgia from effectively responding to citizens’ needs. Struggling to push back on the overwhelming presence and pressure of the Kremlin, Georgian political parties are failing to respond effectively to citizen needs and concerns.

Recognizing this gap and the threat that it represents to democracy, IRI convened groups of Georgian leaders from academia, business, political and religious sectors to engage in dialogue sessions to discuss brain drain, a concern identified by all groups as a priority. The five working groups developed 78 specific policy recommendations to address this pressing issue. Next, each working group agreed on their top five recommendations. Then IRI supported inter-working group discussions to come to consensus on and prioritize 10 recommendations. The working groups including 19 clergymen representing six different major religious denominations, Georgian Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Armenian, and Yazidi. The working groups presented the 10 policy recommendations to a panel of parliamentarians from opposition parties. This group marks one of the only NGO-led engagements in post-Soviet Georgia to include representatives from these six religious denominations. Given the current geopolitical landscape in Georgia, this kind of constructive dialogue among diverse religious leaders is impressive.

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