Democracy and Autocracy in Eurasia
Georgia in Transition
Eurasian Political Econ. & Public Policy
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
Written by an insider and leading authority, Democracy and Autocracy in Eurasia is a compelling chronicle of the political development of the Republic of Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its author is uniquely positioned to tell this story, which draws on his in-depth understanding of Georgia's recent history and on his own involvement in the events that he recounts.
Many politicians, pundits, and scholars in the West have hailed Georgia for its transition to democracy, lavishing particular praise on the "Rose Revolution" of November 2003, during which the long- standing president Eduard Shevardnadze resigned and handed over his office to the charismatic young leader Mikheil Saakashvili. The Rose Revolution takes its name from the flowers that Saakashvili and his supporters carried with them when they publicly disputed the results of the parliamentary elections of early November. Images of tens of thousands of people protesting outside the Parliament were broadcast throughout the world and have encouraged the impression that the Rose Revolution was a genuine revolt of the electorate that led to sweeping changes throughout the government. This is simply a myth, according to Irakly Areshidze, who was a high-ranking political consultant in Georgia during the time of the revolution.
Supported by nearly 100 interviews, Areshidze argues that the change of power in 2003 was not a step forward for democracy but rather a dramatic move backward. He contends that Georgia was well on its way toward democratic rule before the disputed elections of November and that the Rose Revolution actually subverted the nation's political evolution. Dubbing the alleged revolution "an extra-constitutional power grab," Areshidze reveals what went wrong in Georgia and why. This is a surprising, compelling book, essential and instructive reading for everyone who cares about the future of democracy around the globe.