Logo (c) Leah Doellmann
Fostering youth participation in local politics in Georgia
Through our joint project #GEOYOUTH2020, Polis180 and GIP have identified common challenges for young people in Georgia to get involved in politics: Surprisingly, there was little deviation between urban and rural areas when it comes to the awareness and use of mechanisms to get involved in political processes. Most of the participants are not organised in regional networks. While youth from minority areas are more vulnerable to political fatigue in the face of missing representation, this attitude extends across all groups, resulting in abstaining from political practices and thus further undermining their ability to participate.
Contrastingly, when engaging with young people, their participation clearly demonstrated that #GEOYOUTH2020 has struck a chord while at the same time exposing an existential threat to democratic pluralism in Georgia: If young people are not involved in politics, important negotiation processes towards a pluralistic society are inhibited. Therefore, it is essential that this generation – the first one to grow up in a democratic system – is prepared for the discourses constituting it. This also resonates with the Georgian National Youth Policy Concept for 2020 – 2030 (For, With and By Young People), naming as its first priority Active Participation of Young People in Public Life and Democratic Processes.
A key component towards this goal is the Organic Law of Georgia on Local Self-Government adopted with major amendments in 2014. The next local elections are set for the fall of 2021, when representative councils (sakrebulo) and executive heads of municipalities will be elected directly by citizens. As power is traditionally centralised in the national government, reforms to local governance have been crucial to enable direct political participation of citizens at the local level and strengthen the role of smaller parties. Participation in local elections is low especially among young people, not least due to a lack of trust in political institutions and a lack knowledge of how to engage in politics on a municipal level.
The European Union has initiated the Eastern Partnership program in order to support these national processes, notably civil society and youth: As Ambassador Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth emphasised during our September panel discussion, young people hold a key position to ensure resilience of democratisation processes but lack representation and participation. Following up on #GEOYOUTH2020, we therefore want to take the proven methodology and networks gained from this successful interaction with youth in Georgia to the local elections. Together with experts, trainers from Polis180 and GIP, as well as selected project alumni, we will review and adapt the methodology implemented in 2020 to the local contexts.
Building on our thriving partnership and the dialogue initiated between youth and political parties in 2020, GIP and Polis180 will bring together youth within and across the regions in a series of meetings to discuss priorities and solution angles specific to young people and their respective contexts, building on the challenges identified in the Youth Manifesto. Brokered by GIP, one of very few organisations accepted as non-partisan in an increasingly polarized society, the active Georgian youth will be given a chance to develop their own initiatives and implement them in their communities in the course of the project.
A final event in Berlin will then bring together youth ambassadors with representatives of German and European youth groups, politics, and broader civil society, and focus on the role the Eastern Partnership framework can take to support youth participation in the negotiations on a national and international level. By supporting young people in empowering themselves and each other, the participants will be given more than a one-time opportunity to engage with high-level politicians. They will create a forum to continue exchanging their ideas and cooperating beyond the project duration. The final goal is for them to realise their potential as political subjects and thereby strengthen pluralistic democratic structures long-term.
- A kickoff meeting and several webinars open to young people (18-35) across Georgia will be published together with a CfA for project ideas in April.
- Up to 8 projects will be selected for funding and support by our team of experienced trainers who will then hold individual sessions with the project participants based on their needs in May.
- Between June and September, the project teams will implement and documents their projects in the regions. They will present their activities and result in public regional events in September and October.
- A delegation of youth representatives will be invited to Berlin to discuss priorities of youth participation with political stakeholders, civil society representatives and local youth.
- Finally, in an extensive review process, we will bring together the participants as well as the project team to evaluate the measures and effects. In a final publication, we will make the results available to the public.
- MANIFESTO – Engaging Youth in Politics in Georgia
- Blog Article #1: “The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything”. An Analysis by Sonja Schiffers & Frauke Seebass (July 2020)
- Blog Article #2: Political apathy in Georgia: Why don’t young people vote? A comment by Nino Samkharadze (October 2020)
- Blog Article #3: Participation for future: Youth in party politics in Germany, Georgia and beyond. A comment by Frauke Seebass & Anna Kiknadze (December 2020)
As part of #GEOYOUTH2021, up to 8 sub-grant projects will be supported financially and administratively. The call is open to young people 18-35 years old living in Georgia and will be published here shortly.
Testimonies by our supporters
Our project partner
The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) is a Tbilisi-based non-profit, non-partisan, research and analysis organization founded in early 2011. GIP strives to strengthen the organizational backbone of democratic institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It also encourages public participation in civil society-building and developing democratic processes. GIP is working to distinguish itself through relevant, incisive research; extensive public outreach; and a brazen spirit of innovation in policy discourse and political conversation.
Our project staff
Frauke Seebass (Co-Project Lead, Polis180): Frauke is a board member of Polis180 and active in the program Perspective East, working mainly on the Western Balkans and the countries of the Eastern Partnership in the framework of EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy. In addition, she works for the Berlin-based media NGO n-ost in a project promoting cross-border journalism across the continent. Among others, she studied Peace & Conflict Studies and Linguistics in Germany, The Netherlands, and Israel. Frauke loves Georgian nature, wine and toasting culture and dreams of becoming a brilliant tamada one day.
Anna Kiknadze (Co-Project Lead, Polis180): Anna is an active member of the programs Cultural Politics and the Perspective East, focusing on the Eastern Partnership, the South Caucasus, and German-Georgian Relations. She has a background in International Relations (BA from Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia) and European Studies (MA from University of Bath, UK and Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany). She has been based in Berlin for the past 5 years, but at the same time remains actively engaged with social and political life of Georgia. In addition, she is the founder of an annual international ‘Ojos Negros Tango festival’ in Kazbegi, Georgia.
Renata Skardžiūtė-Kereselidze (Project Manager, GIP): Renata is Programs Manager at Georgian Institute of Politics. She has a background in political science (BA from Vilnius University, Institute of International Relations and Political Science) and nationalism studies (MA from Central European University), with a special interest in Europeanisation. Renata has moved to Georgia from Lithuania eight years ago, to explore the Caucasus version of Euro-Atlantic integration. Before joining GIP Renata worked with different NGOs in Lithuania and Georgia in the fields of human rights, youth activism and development cooperation.
Nino Jibuti (project assistant, GIP): Nino is a USAID Program Officer at Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) and is coordinating Promoting Youth Transformational Leaders program. Nino has obtained a European graduate degree from Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s program Social Work with Families and Children (Mfamily), studied in Portugal, Norway, and Sweden. Nino spent one academic year during her undergraduate studies at Charles University in Prague, Czechia. She has worked for different international organizations in Georgia and has a vast experience in implementing different social projects. Her initiatives focused on empowerment, providing equal opportunity to youth living in the regions in Georgia.
Salome Kandelaki (project assistant, GIP): Salome is currently a Project Coordinator at the Georgian Institute of Politics. In 2017, she obtained her MA degree in Political Science from the Central European University Budapest. Moreover, she has the second Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the joint program of German University of Administrative Sciences and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. Her latest work experience includes Fundraising Management at Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) and being a leading acting specialist at the Tbilisi City Assembly as well as project management in different youth non-governmental organizations. Her field of experience is comparative case-study analyses with the particular focus on religion and democracy, regionalism and democratization. Among her research interests are Europeanization, frozen conflicts as well as secularism in Europe.
Ketevan Jachvadze (project assistant, GIP): Ketevan is a Communications Officer at GIP. She maintains a favorable public image for the organization and communicates GIP products to the media and public. Primarily she is responsible for providing communication support to the projects implemented by the organization, establishing and maintaining the information flow between the organization and all target groups effectively. In addition, she is responsible for managing publicity, media and events as well as creating and delivering the relevant content.
Nino Samkharadze (project assistant, GIP): Nino is a Junior Policy Analyst at GIP. At the same time, she is a PhD student at Tbilisi State University, Department of Political Science. She has obtained MA degree in Nationalism and Ethnicity Studies from TSU and BA degree in International Relations from International Black Sea University (IBSU). Being an invited lecturer at IBSU she delivers courses in Introduction to Political Science and Nationalism in International Relations. Nino’s research interests include nationalism, identity politics and their influence on political processes in the post-Soviet region.
Gvantsa Ichkiti (project assistant, GIP): Gvantsa is a Project Coordinator at the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP). She is currently studying on joint master program in Public Administration of German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer and Tbilisi State University. Gvantsa holds bachelor degree in Political Science from Tbilisi State University and spent academic semester in Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic). She has been working in non-governmental organizations in Georgia as well as in Europe. Her recent working experience includes the Senior Specialist in International Relations Department, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. Gvantsa is interested in political systems, ideologies as well as environmental policy and sustainable development.
01 March- 31 December 2021
The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office in the framework of the programme “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”.