Voting with “Fear of Punishment” – From OSCE / ODIHR Mission Preliminary Findings

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A preliminary report released by the OSCE / ODIHR International Observer Mission on October 3 states that “the October 2 election was generally well-administered” and that “election subjects were able to campaign freely and in a competitive environment.”

But then, in the same text, the mission soon mentions the pre-election campaign “It has been damaged by widespread and consistent statements and allegations of intimidation, voter bribery and pressure on candidates and voters, and unequal competition conditions.”

The ODIHR Mission indicates the widespread, widespread, and inadequate response to the allegations:

  • “Voters, candidates and political parties have made widespread and consistent allegations of voter bribery, misuse of administrative resources, intimidation and pressure.”
  • “This has raised concerns about the ability of voters to vote” without fear of retribution “; “Such an environment contradicts international standards.”
  • “Speaking to the Election Observation Mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, many parties involved in the process said that although officials had been informed, no investigation into the intimidation had been launched.
  • “Assemblies within 100 meters of the polling station, observers noted that in 21% of the observed areas, groups of rioters were observed, which created a frightening environment; “Because of the restrictions.”

The report repeatedly mentions allegations of misuse of administrative resources, including the involvement of public officials in the election campaign, which can only be obtained by the ruling party. However, we no longer find the assessment highlighted in the 2020 report.

In assessing the parliamentary elections, the first findings of the ODIHR International Mission indicated problem – “Erased border” between the state and the ruling party.

In response to a question from Radio Liberty, Albert Johnson, the head of the ODIHR Election Observation Mission, said that a problem with the “erased edge” had emerged in the previous year as well.

“The blurred line between the state and the ruling party is related to the misuse of administrative resources, which we touched on in our statement. This gives the ruling party an advantage over its rivals, and this implies a blurred line between the government and the ruling party. There were too many allegations about the administrative resources of the government. We can not investigate these allegations, we are not investigators. We take note of the scale and systematic nature of the allegations.

But, at the same time, in our statement we clearly stated that the announcement of certain projects by the government during the election campaign did not comply with the spirit of the law in force in Georgia. This addresses the issue of the blurred line between the government and the ruling party. We have made it clear that this gives undue advantage to those in power. “ – Says the head of the ODIHR observation mission.

The head of the European Parliament’s observation mission, Michael Galler (EPP), told a news conference in Tbilisi on October 3 that pre-election irregularities always “in one way or another” affect the outcome of the election, but the scale of the impact here in Georgia must be assessed.

However, he said, the allegations require a proper investigation.

“Officials should thoroughly investigate cases of intimidation aimed at removing opposition candidates, pressure on public officials, misuse of administrative resources, and widespread imbalances in financial resources to further exacerbate feelings of impunity. For the post-election period “- Says the head of the European Parliament delegation, who believes that the polarized political climate in Georgia needs to be changed urgently.

The text of the international observer mission also emphasizes the “excessive polarization” of the media environment, thus “reflecting the rift between the ruling and opposition parties.”

At the same time, the target of aggression is the media itself. “The deteriorating media environment due to the recent incidents of intimidation and threats against journalists raises concerns about the ability of the media to operate in a safe and secure environment and promotes self-censorship.” – We read in the report.

Marina Kaliurand, an Estonian MEP and member of the monitoring delegation, speaks about the need for climate change in the country.

The member of the European Parliament says that the citizens of Georgia have shared with him the concern about fatigue due to political tension and destabilization, and it is time for political parties to start taking care of the people.

“I would like to call on the political forces, the parties, to put national interests above party interests; to restore peace and stability in the country and to continue working on issues that affect people on a daily basis. System Reforms – Much More to Do ” – Says the MEP.

The preliminary report of the ODIHR mission states that the amendments to the Electoral Code of June 2021 under the Charles Michel Agreement do not fully reflect the important recommendations of the ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, as opposed by the Georgian government.

“The new amendments partially share the previous recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Venice Commission, including on the timing and recount of election disputes, although many of them remain unintended.

Including those restricting voting rights, other aspects of resolving election disputes, and additional measures necessary to prevent the misuse of administrative resources. “ – We read in the report.

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