V-Dem Results: The Quality of Democracy in Georgia Declined in 2023

News | Open Governance and Anti-Corruption | Analysis | Report | Article 8 April 2024

According to the 2024 V-Dem Institute report, Georgia saw a reduction in scores across various categories. The report points primarily to electoral processes as one of the main reasons for the decline of the quality of democracy in the country. Within the framework of the V-Dem studies, the situation in Georgia has been declining since 2017, although Georgia still falls within the category of electoral democracy. 


In 2023, compared to previous years, Georgia’s assessment across all five High-Level Indices comprising V-Dem declined. These indices are:

-        Electoral Democracy Index;

-        Deliberative Democracy Index;

-        Participatory Democracy Index; 

-        Egalitarian Democracy Index;

-        Liberal Democracy Index. 


The V-Dem report reflects the events that took place in Georgia in recent years, including those of 2023, when the Georgian government attempted to pass the so-called law “On Foreign Agents”.


According to V-Dem’s global assessment, 2023 is marked with an overall declining trend in democracy. 71% of the global population lives under conditions of autocratic regimes. Against this background and considering the fact that Georgia has received the EU candidate status, it is crucial that Georgia avoid democratic backsliding. V-Dem data makes it possible to evaluate the quality of democracy based on specific indicators, and neglecting these indicators will, in the end, be reflected on the quality of democracy in the country.


About the V-Dem Rating

The V-Dem Institute, based at University of Gothenburg department of political science, annually published data that allows for the assessment of the quality of democracy in countries across the globe. The reliability and quality of the gathered data is recognized internationally. For example, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) uses two of the indicators from the V-Dem database to assess candidate countries wishing to join the partnership—the indicator on CSO entry and exit, which evaluates the extent to which the government controls the processes of the creation and dissolution of civil society organizations, and the CSO repression indicator.   


The V-Dem methodology is grounded both in official documents (such as constitution, laws, and government normative acts), as well as subjective perception and evaluation of events by experts (e.g. political processes in a given country, elections, and others). V-Dem comprises different democracy indices, using various sets of indicators to derive them. The 21 Mid-Level Indices differ from each other in terms of area of coverage (including freedom of expression and alternative sources of information, equality before the law and individual liberty, local and regional self-government, civil society participation, freedom of elections, etc.). Meanwhile, the 5 High-Level, Marco-Indices (Electoral Democracy, Deliberative Democracy, Participatory Democracy, Egalitarian Democracy, Liberal Democracy) allow one to easily perceive the democratic quality of the development of various processes in a country across the years. The V-Dem methodology uses over 400 indicators to calculate the indices.


The macro indices, as well as the Mid-Level Indices, receive a score between 0 and 1. As such, even a small reduction in the score can indicate important changes in the overall quality of democracy in terms of a given indicator. 


The analysis presents the results on the relative scale (sometimes given as scores in the original scale, as indicated). The data on the relative scale reflects the differences in the views of the experts involved in the study and other circumstances, which allows for the construction of a more accurate picture. Indices and indicators are calculated based on a mathematical formula and are assigned appropriate scores and positions in the rating as a result.



It should be noted that when observing the trends in the High-Level Indices for Georgia, the country was showing significant growth during 2004 and 2013-2014 periods, which may be related to the changes in the Georgian political spectrum, specifically in the government. It should also be noted, however, that since 2017, most of the High-Level Indices have been seeing a decline in Georgia. Important in this regard is the growth observed in the Liberal Democracy Index and the Deliberative Democracy Index observed in 2022 compared to the previous year, which unfortunately reversed in 2023 and fell below the 2021 results. In 2023, compared to recent years, among the 5 High-Level Indices, the only one that saw a relatively small decline was the Liberal Democracy Index. 


Civil Society 


Among the groupings of indicators in the V-Dem dataset, the indicators falling under the heading of Civil Society are especially interesting in Georgia, given recent events. The present analysis focuses on indicators that assess government control over entry and exit of CSOs in Georgia, pressure on civil society from the government (repressions), participation of women in civil society organizations, and the overall level of participation of CSOs in civic activities. It should be noted that on the original scale, all of these indicators, except for the last, are assessed on a scale of 1 to 4. The indicator on participatory environment, meanwhile, is assessed on a scale of 1 to 3.


Additionally, it should be noted that the V-Dem dataset includes indices that are not part of the High and Mid-Level Indices discussed above. One of them is the Core Civil Society Index. In this Index, Georgia received its lowers score in the past decade in 2023 (a score of 0.808, when the score was 0.848 in 2012 and 0.919 in 2022). The Index measures the extent to which CSOs can operate without interference from the government and the quality of their participation in public life. Specifically, it is calculated based on three criteria: 1) CSO entry and exit; 2) CSO repression; and 3) CSO participatory environment. Among these, the first two indicators declined substantially compared to 2022, likely predicated by the increased pressure on the civil society sector from the government’s side.



In terms of individual indicators, V-Dem results show that in 2023, as compared to 2022, the results for the CSO entry and exit indicator declined sharply (from 3.658 to 2.992). The mentioned indicator evaluates the extent to which CSOs may enter and operate in political life and the extent to which the government attempts to establish control over these processes through restrictions, bans, or support/funding for organizations loyal to the government. The decline began since 2021, when the score was 3.741.


Compared to 2022, a decline was also observed in the CSO repression indicator (from 3.692 to 3.337). Keeping in mind the high score in 2020 (3.878), this points to the presence of significant negative developments. It should be noted that the CSO repression indicator was declining from 2007 to 2012, saw an increase in 2013-2014, then was characterized by a steady decline up to and including 2017. In 2022, this indicator saw a small increase compared to the previous year (3.61), but as mentioned above, the trend was not maintained.


In contrast, in 2022, the indicator of the CSO participatory environment saw a small increase (from 2.35 to 2.438). This indicator evaluates the diversity of CSOs and the level of their engagement in public life. The indicator is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 3, where the maximum score means that the country has a diverse civil sector and it is considered normal for people to be occasionally active in at least one of them. 




In 2021-2023, V-Dem data shows that the quality of democracy in Georgia declined once again. This was especially evident in the Electoral Democracy, Deliberative Democracy, Participatory Democracy, and Egalitation Democracy High-Level Indices. There was also a relatively small decline in the Liberal Democracy Index result. As such, Georgia has seen a decline in every single High-Level Index.


Changes in assessment scores indicate that it is necessary to improve the participation of civil society and other stakeholders in policy development and decision-making processes and to ensure the independence of the judiciary and lawful elections. Considering the fact that the V-Dem report directly points to the events of March 2023 related to the so-called law “On Foreign Agents” when discussing the decline of quality of democracy in Georgia, the return of his law to the public agenda in 2024 will be even more negatively reflected on the quality of democracy.


For the full analysis, please see the attached document





/public/upload/Analysis/V-Dem-2024 V-Dem .pdf

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