The run-up to Georgia’s* October 1 election has been dirty, demeaning, and rife with abuses of power and allegations of corruption. It’s also the best thing to happen to Georgia in a long time.
The epic clash of egos that Georgians are witnessing today, discomfiting as it is, might ironically end up rescuing the country’s flagging democracy. The lesson may be that the best way to weaken a power-hungry regime is not the soft incremental reforms advocated by Western governments, which typically work through the formal institutions of government usually by passing new laws. Yet authoritarian leaders are notoriously skilled at failing to implement laws on the books or applying them selectively. Instead, the surefire way to get an authoritarian’s attention is to marshal countervailing power—which may require the participation of strong-willed and wealthy narcissists who do not like losing. Ironically, building democracy may sometimes require leaders with authoritarian instincts—as long as they aren’t on the same side.
The full article is available ungated here.
*The country, not the state….