Polarization as a Threat for Democracy Analysis of the Media System of Georgia

Georgia represents one of the most polarized democracies throughout the world. This is how the evaluation made by German organization Democracy Reporting International and Young Lawyers Association of Georgia looks like according to the research they conducted in 2017. According to the reports of international observation organizations, polarization is one of the obstacles for the development of democracy in Georgia. Though polarization does not bear an ideological character in Georgia but it is revealed in two political opponents that turns into the so-called antagonist symbiosis in the pre- election periods. For the latest 7 years, the two politically polarized forces have been observed in Georgia – Georgian Dream – currently in power and National Movement that represented the Georgian government earlier and its groups. The similar ideological platforms are beyond the antagonistic symbiosis, both forces support market economic reforms and name Euro- Atlantic integration as the priority of the country‘s external policy. The pre-election and general media monitoring, conducted by influential international and local organizations show that media outlets are also sharply polarized. It applies mostly to the TV area. Television still remains one of the sources for information spreading (more than 70%). Two national broadcasters - ,,Rustavi 2” and ,,Imedi ― share the largest part of the audience. Besides, according to different reports, ,,Rustavi 2“ owners are affiliated with the former government – National Movement while ,,Imedi ― is distinguished by its loyalty to the Georgian Dream government as well as biased coverage. The distinctive form of political polarization and the fact that parallel media polarization remain unexamined and unstudied, represent the motivator encouraging us. The polarized pluralism media model is applied as a theoretical basis by us, Danniel C Hallin and Paulo Manchini provide. The research hypothesis says that independent media outlets are the primary victims of the political and parallel media polarization. The latter creates new instruments/factors to oppress and clean them or strengthen the existing ones. This tendency comes back as a boomerang to democracy – and represents a threat. By applying the qualitative methodology, we are carrying out the study of the Georgian media system as the polarized monism or/and polarized – defective pluralism or/and polarized populism, which, according to the hypothesis that we propose, has adverse impact on independent media actors. The research conducted under the qualitative methodology is based on the Case Study methodology as well as the content, observation and quantitative analysis method. Besides, it depends on the deep interviews conducted by small number of independent media outlets, polls conducted via questionnaires by journalists working in regions as well as focus- groups. The research includes four factors of parallel media system of political polarization: financial, technical, legislative, human.
Media polarization, Defective democracy, Post-Truth, Theory of Attitude and Set, Polarized – defective pluralism