Electoral autocracies have become the world’s most common form of non-democratic rule. In hegemonic autocracies in particular, where the president, or his party, always wins by more than 70 percent of the vote, the electoral process comes across as mere window-dressing. Still, both the regime and the opposition take elections seriously. Why? What role do elections play? The article deals with this question while focusing on the Azerbaijani 2013 presidential election, and consists of three parts. The first is a theoretical introduction dedicated to electoral autocracies and authoritarian stability. The next summarizes the election, stressing its purpose for the opposition. The third part analyses whether and how the election contributed to strengthening the authoritarian regime. The study concludes that developments during and after the election year are an illustration of what in previous research is sometimes referred to as the politics of insecurity. Even though the opposition “lost”, the relative success of their campaign indicated that change might, after all, be possible. The regime, depending on regular multi-party elections for its democratic alibi, did not appreciate the uncertainty and tried to minimize it by using the “three pillars” on which authoritarian states’ stability can be said to rest: legitimacy, repression and cooptation.
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, European organizations have been seeking to protect the results of this historic transition to democracy and help consolidate democracy. One way has been to invite new democracies to commit to a set of democratic values and to monitor the progress of fulfilment of the commitments. However, some of these processes have failed to show sufficient progress and have instead become prolonged over a long period of time. An example is the monitoring of commitments to the Council of Europe in the three states in the South Caucasus, which has been ongoing since these countries gained membership at the turn of the century. The aim of the article is to come to an understanding of the phenomenon of extended monitoring of new democracies and discuss implications for the protection of democratic values. The main argument is that emphasis on maintaining the relationship with new members rather than defining core values has led to an extension of monitoring, and this is pointing towards a logic of institutionalized cosmopolitanism which is putting focus on mediation of conflicts and returning the responsibility of developing democratic values to the community of self-proclaimed democratic states.
Inhuman (adamiani ar aris) is an expression used in Georgia to depict, among other things, people who are non-believers. This article describes a group of atheists in the Republic of Georgia and their relation to the Georgian Orthodox Church and the nation as such. It is based on interviews and conversations with atheists in Tbilisi, online discussions in the local internet forum “Atheists Club”, and participation in the yearly picnic of this club. The article explores Georgian atheists’ attempts to internally define themselves as a group, in terms of what it means to be an atheist, and also their attempts to externally define themselves as equal members of the Georgian nation through the establishment of an “Atheist Society”. These descriptions are related to local Georgian-Orthodox perceptions of what constitutes a proper Georgian person, and to broader questions of subjectivity and meaninglessness.