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Tag: politics

The war that brought back the eternal Bulgarian dispute

The war in Ukraine for Bulgarian society is what Donald Trump was for the United States and Brexit for the United Kingdom – a quake that divided society. Bulgaria became a member of the European Union in 2007, but never managed to part with two definitions of itself. One is that it is the poorest and most corrupt country in the EU, and the other is that it was the most loyal satellite of the Soviet Union. These labels continue to influence Sofia's policy and largely explain the political changes in the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

July 14, 2022 - Krassen Nikolov

EU resilience in the Eastern Partnership: what does the case of Georgia’s political crisis tell us?

The Eastern Partnership faces an uncertain future as the European Union cannot offer any viable alternative for the group’s best performers. EU resilience in the region is now under strain. Given the increasing global dominance of China and Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, will Brussels manage to remain a credible actor in the region?

The year 2021 was full of challenges for Georgia’s democratic future and its relations with its western partners. After the parliamentary elections in October 2020, Georgia entered a deep and protracted crisis that, as of writing, still haunts the country’s politics. Disagreements over the results of the elections led to deadlock in February 2021, when the police raided the headquarters of the largest opposition party to arrest its leader. Naturally, this raised concerns among local human rights advocates and democracy watchdogs.

February 15, 2022 - Shota Kakabadze

Russia’s young generation and the Soviet myth

Young people in Russia today generally possess a complicated relationship with the Soviet past. Having no direct experience of the communist state, this group continues to inhabit an uncertain middle ground with regards to historical understandings. The government makes everything more confusing as it continues to offer no clear alternative with regards to national identity.

September 2021 was marked by the elections to the State Duma in Russia. Of the 14 parties on the ballot, only five actually overcame the minimum five per cent threshold to gain representation in parliament. The country’s traditional “party of power” United Russia (UR) scored a record low of 49.82 per cent. Previously, the party had easily gained more than half of the votes and was for a long time the only party in a position to independently push through new bills in the Duma. Despite this recent shift, it does not seem like the situation has changed a lot in Russian politics. UR still achieved a greater number of votes than any other party and, consequently, the most seats in the Duma.

December 1, 2021 - Victoria Odissonova

Nazarbayev’s handmade political transition in Kazakhstan

The “Land of the Great Steppe” finds itself in a partial or even stalled transitory period, despite the departure of Nursultan Nazarbayev as president. At the same time, Kazakhstan has no choice but to continue to navigate between its Russian and Chinese neighbours, even if relations with both are deteriorating.

October 4, 2021 - Charles Fourmi Dylan van de Ven Gabrielle Valli Hubert-Felix Delattre

Is the Georgian Dream committed to democracy and European integration?

Georgia is currently undergoing a political crisis which has led to an unprecedented amount of European Union involvement in resolving it. The mediation of the crisis, led by the president of the European Council, has demonstrated how important Georgia had become for the EU. Yet, the government’s decision to completely annul the deal has sent signals that it may be deviating from its pro-EU path.

After coming to power in 2012, the Georgian Dream party officially set out to uphold democratic values and support Georgia’s European integration. However, after the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union and obtaining visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to Schengen Area states, the Georgian Dream party soon started to display authoritarian tendencies as it harassed independent media and politicised the judiciary system in order to weaken the opposition. The party was utilised as a tool by its tycoon founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, for adapting legislation to fit his personal business interests.

September 12, 2021 - Soso Dzamukashvili

Crisis like a dream

Georgia has been trapped in a political, economic and social black hole. It is affected by crisis after crisis. There is no prospect for improvement. Thus, at a certain point apathy may turn into social eruption.

For many months now Georgian politicians have been busy. After last October’s parliamentary elections, the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition got themselves stuck in a months-long jam from which they could not escape. The opposition accused the authorities of rigging elections and they boycotted the parliament, while the ruling coalition downplayed the accusations and claimed the opposition was unable to accept defeat.

June 23, 2021 - Wojciech Wojtasiewicz

The Baltic states. Three peas in a pod?

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are often together associated as a bloc, with a similar history, culture and politics. While there are some commonalities among the three countries, there are also some key characteristics that make them quite different from each other.

From the outside, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are usually viewed as one – “the Baltics”. However, their fates have only been intertwined during the last century. Prior to the end of the First World War, Lithuania had been closely connected with Poland, while Estonians and Latvians had been under Baltic German domination for seven centuries, no matter whether the ruling power was Sweden, Poland or Russia. Lithuanian and Latvian are the two surviving Baltic languages, whereas Estonian belongs to a completely different language family, together with Finnish and Hungarian.

April 11, 2021 - Andres Kasekamp

Latvia prepares for big step in LGBTQ+ rights

The issue of granting parental rights to same-sex partners has become the most important fight for equality in modern day Latvia. As parliament prepares to decide on key amendments to the country’s constitution, Latvians are struggling to understand that their freedom should not infringe on the freedom of others.

No one embodies the individual and collective fight for one's liberties and freedom in modern-day Latvia as much as Evita Goša. When her fiancée found out she was not entitled to a ten-day paid leave usually granted to fathers of new-borns, she petitioned the Constitutional Court of Latvia which agreed to hear the case.

April 11, 2021 - Ričards Umbraško

A red-blue wave (in Austria)?

The Austrian state of Burgenland’s recent experience of a Social Democrat-Nationalist coalition, shows that such an arrangement may once again become a fixture in the country’s politics.

April 7, 2021 - Stefano Arroque

Russia in the starting blocks for the 2021 parliamentary election

The 2021 State Duma election will be the most important stress-test for the Russian regime in the run-up to a possible transition of power in the coming years. The Kremlin has responded to real or imagined threats linked to this election with a new wave of highly repressive laws. However, this authoritarian overreaction may backfire, thus confirming the Kremlin’s fears of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Parliamentary elections in Russia are about much more than just window-dressing. They serve to legitimise the authoritarian regime in the eyes of the public as well as verify the efficacy of the state administration machinery. The tangible unease among the Kremlin’s decision-makers, provoked by an unfavourable economic future and a worrisome evolution in the social mood, has accelerated efforts to consolidate authoritarian rule.

February 3, 2021 - Maria Domańska

When institutions fail, boycott and street protests remain the only instrument

Georgian NGOs and election watchdogs have labelled the October 2020 parliamentary elections as “the least democratic and free among the elections held under the Georgian Dream government”. As a result, the united opposition parties have boycotted entering into the new parliament and protests continue on the streets of Tbilisi, calling for fresh, free and transparent elections.

Once a frontrunner in democracy in the region, Georgia now faces a crisis of democracy. What was supposed to be the country’s first predominantly proportional parliamentary elections that would strengthen representation and bring in a diverse, pluralistic parliament resulted in the opposite happening. Georgia’s 2020 parliamentary elections became known as “the least democratic and free” in the Georgian Dream’s rule by the country’s leading NGOs and election-watchdogs.

February 3, 2021 - Anastasia Mgaloblishvili

Lithuanian elections provide new opportunities and women empowerment

In October 2020 the election to Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) took place and brought new political power to Lithuania for the upcoming four years. More women have been empowered in leadership – the three parties that will make up the centre right coalition are led by women. This election marks a change in Lithuania’s political culture and gives more assurance for trust, democracy and gender equality.

During the two rounds of elections to the Seimas on October 11th and 25th, 141 parliamentarians were elected to represent Lithuania’s parliament for the next four years. The results of the elections show that the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats won the elections with the most seats (50) in the Seimas. The previous ruling party, the Lithuanian Peasant Popular Party, won 32 seats while the Social Democrats and the Liberal Movement received 13 mandates each. The Freedom Party, founded in 2019, won 11 seats, and the Labour Party won 10 seats. The new ruling coalition was formed by the Homeland Union, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party, which together secured a majority of 74 seats.

February 3, 2021 - Kristina Smolijaninovaitė

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