Local Self-Government From the Critical Perspective of Ilia Chavchavadze

Thinking about the modern model of self-government in Georgia started in the XIX century. One of the pioneers in this regard is a significant public figure - Ilia Chavchavadze. The national elections, which were the most important event of the early twentieth century and were the result of the tireless work of educators, shared modern principles of self-government. 

However, as a result of the occupation of Soviet Russia, the prospects of Georgia's general development and the creation of real self-government were delayed for 70 years. Moreover, the strictly centralized system of government and the ingrained vices of the Soviet Union left a lasting mark on institutions, including local self-government. Such a legacy was accompanied by the rulers' lack of sufficient and stable political will to take swift and radical measures for democratic decentralization. On the contrary, in some cases, the opposite step was taken towards centralization.

Three decades have passed since the restoration of the independence of Georgia, and tangible results in the process of institutional transformation are less visible. Local self-government is indeed considered one of the essential means of democracy; it would not be an exaggeration to say that self-government is one of the issues that has lagged behind the transition process in Georgia. Moreover, the population itself is less interested in self-government.

Given the low interest in local self-government and the lack of proper public appreciation of its significant role and importance, this publication aims to share existing knowledge on this topic. For this reason, it is essential to discuss the most crucial political-legal document adopted in the second half of the XX century (European Charter of Local Self-Government). However, we should not forget that before the European member states agreed on the basic principles of self-government, about a century ago Ilia Chavchavadze had a deep understanding of self-government's fundamental principles and features. Therefore, we think that we should start talking about local self-government by analyzing the visions of Ilia Chavchavadze. At the same time, it would be appropriate to compare his perspective with the modern European model of local self-government and find a crossing point.

Note: The full document is available only in Georgian.


Egnate Shamugia, Tamar Ketsbaia