Nine participants from Georgia spent the first week of July touring the institutions of Berlin to learn about political pluralism and the German experience of building a consensual political culture. Three of the participants were members of DRI’s partners in Georgia, ForSet and Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), one was the winner of GYLA and DRI’s competition for articles on media and polarisation, and five were winners of the communicathon organised by DRI and ForSet.
The group attended meetings with leaders from different civil society organisations, think tanks, media groups, political parties and government institutions. The topics ranged from the role of media in pluralised atmospheres, the current political environment in Georgia and Germany’s history with political polarisation.
Some of the places the group visited included:
The participants all left Berlin feeling like they had a stronger idea of German political history. One participant said that they felt the “German example of reflecting on [the] past and creating a functioning pluralist democracy serves as an incredible lesson for young democracies such as Georgia.” Another lesson taken away from the week was that improving democratic tendencies inside Georgian political parties and equipping party members with the necessary tools to combat polarisation is key. The group was additionally very impressed by their meetings with the various media watchdogs and fact-checking organisations like Correctiv, Die Medienanstalten and Deutsche Welle. Overall, the participants left feeling that while they can not copy the German solutions to extreme political polarisation and paste it onto Georgian politics, they can interpret bits and pieces that they learned through the Georgian context.
The study visit was organised as part of the project “Strengthening political pluralism in Georgia – phase III”, part of the German governmental programme “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.