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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Apr
12

Red or Blue!

Have you ever wondered why the color of the United National Movement (UNM) is red while Georgian Dream (GD) is blue? Why not green and orange? It might be that red and blue offer a contrast, and they also symbolize quite different things.1 And, contrast is indeed what they each seek. These two parties have dominated Georgian politics since 2012, and it is now difficult to recall the subject they built a consensus around or even one that they have tried to discuss. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), in its report on the 2018 ...
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Nov
27

Georgia’s 2018 Presidential Election by Numbers

On 28 November, the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) will hold the second round of the very last direct presidential election in Georgia before the constitutional pivot to indirect elections. This is the last stage of a political reform aiming at replacing the presidential political arrangement with the parliamentary system. The president’s powers in the new system will be extremely limited and largely symbolic.1 Nevertheless, political parties are considering the presidential elections of 2018 to be a rehearsal for the more influential parliam...
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Apr
08

Can Quotas Do It?!

Despite substantial improvements in education, professional development and political participation, women remain underrepresented in leadership positions in politics, and Georgia is no exception. In 2017, the country ranked in 94th place (out of 144), according to the Global Gender Gap index (GGI),1 which indicates that Georgia is not performing well in closing the gender gap. The GGI serves as a comprehensive and consistent measure for gender equality, which can track a country’s progress over time. Economic participation and opportunity, educational a...
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Oct
30

Georgia’s Democracy: the Puzzle of a Red Country Turning Blue

On October 21, 2017, Georgia’s entire political map was painted in different shades of blue – the color of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. GD won in all but one race in the country’s municipal elections – achieving solid majorities in all sakrebulo (city councils) and placing party-backed candidates as mayors in all cities and self-governing communities. Such results are quite unusual, and nearly impossible to achieve nowadays in the politically polarized atmosphere of Western Europe, UK or the U.S. Do they suggest that GD has been except...
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Apr
08

Bashar al-Assad’s Three Puzzles

In 2007, an American businessman and friend of the then Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, was visiting Damascus before continuing his journey to Jerusalem. On the morning of his departure to Israel, the Mukhabarat, Syria’s secret service, knocked at his hotel room. The Syrian agents calmed down the scared businessman – he was not to be taken to some torture prison, of which there were many in Syria. Instead, they wanted to know what was Ehud Olmert’s favorite dish. Surprised about this question, the businessman answered “hummus”, and half an hour la...
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Mar
06

Economic Freedom (Act): Do We Need It or Not?

The so-called “Economic Freedom Act” (EFA), which has been a matter of public discussion in recent weeks, refers to two pieces of legislation: (i) a Constitutional amendment from 2010, which requires a referendum for introducing new taxes or increasing the tax rate, and (ii) the Law on Economic Freedom (2011), in force since 2013, setting a number of additional restrictions to government fiscal policy (Table 1). Table 1. Law on Economic Freedom in Short Number of Tax...
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