Technocratic Populism in Hybrid Regimes: Georgia on My Mind and in My Pocket

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Technocratic Populism in Hybrid Regimes: Georgia on My Mind and in My Pocket


  • David Aprasidze School of Arts and Sciences, Ilia State University, Georgia
  • David S. Siroky School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University, USA / Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Science, Czech Republic


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Abstract:  Most studies of technocratic populism have focused on democracies under stress (e.g., Italy, Czech Republic). This article builds on and extends these studies by analyzing a hybrid regime—post-Soviet Georgia—and argues that technocratic populism in this context is utilized as a façade to cover authoritarian and oligarchic tendencies, while suspending (or reversing) democratization efforts. The state apparatus is weaponized against current and potential political opponents. Ideology is irrelevant, loyalty is key, and passivity is encouraged. The government aims to chip away at institutional checks and balances, and to demobilize the public by undermining confidence in the country’s representative institutions while increasing dependence on experienced personalities, the ‘can do experts.’ The result is most often a stable partial-reform equilibrium. We illustrate this argument with evidence from Georgia, where Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in the country, came to power in 2012 and, despite not holding any official position in the government since 2013, has run the state as a firm.

Keywords:  Georgia; hybrid regimes; Ivanishvili; populism; technocratic populism

Published:   17 December 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3370


© David Aprasidze, David S. Siroky. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.