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Illiberal and authoritarian tendencies in Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe

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Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski

Even though the democratic decline has been deemed a global phenomenon, the question of how it manifests itself in the postcommunist world and how it varies across different regions with divergent levels of democratic consolidation has not been sufficiently addressed yet. This book tries to fill the gap and examines the causes and nature of the deteriorating quality of democracy in Central Europe as well as the reversal or stagnation of democratization processes in Southeastern and Eastern Europe. The political elite plays a key role in initiating legislative changes that may lead to democratic backsliding. Its constant commitment to the rule of law and to the practice of selfrestraint in securing the independence of judiciary and the rights of political opposition appears hence indispensable for sustainable liberal democracy.
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14. Splitting the Apex: Liberal Democracy and Georgian Political Elites (Giga Zedania)

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Giga Zedania

14.  Splitting the Apex: Liberal Democracy and Georgian Political Elites

The goal of this chapter is to depict the common characteristics of four successive regimes in Georgia that constitute the major factors hindering establishment of democracy in the country. First, charismatic leadership as a precondition of one-party dominance in the political system. Accordingly, a political party is an informal network of friends and allies centred on a charismatic leader. Second, polarization is expressed in the fact that each change of power is linked with the persecution of the previous power holders, which makes the normalization of the election process extremely difficult. Third, there is a paranoid style framing political debates around conspiracy theories. Finally, there is a culture of informality, whereby the focus on charismatic leaders makes the existence of formalized channels of communication and decision making a secondary process.

Keywords: double hybridity, charismatic leadership, one-party system, polarization

The Apex of the Political System

Democracy, according to an elegant definition of Niklas Luhmann, is the “splitting of the apex of the differentiated political system through the distinction of the government and opposition” (Luhmann, 1987: 126). This distinction is, according to Luhmann, a temporal one – it is about a fundamental possibility that “the ruling and opposition parties at the next elections change their places”. This abstract system theoretical definition of the concept of democracy finds its confirmation through empirical democracy research: Samuel Huntington offered a...

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