Representatives of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR) held a press conference on October 3 on Georgia’s local elections.
Albert Johnson, head of the OSCE / ODIHR EOM, said that although the October 2 local elections were “generally well run”, the election process was taking place amid a protracted political crisis, with “consistent allegations of intimidation and vote-buying.” :
“In general, the campaign was peaceful, but there were cases of violence and there were also verbal and physical confrontations, which intensified with the approach of election day. There was also aggressive rhetoric, especially on social media. There was involvement of public officials in the election campaign, which gave the ruling party an undue advantage. “Candidates and voters have focused on widespread and consistent allegations of vote-buying, misuse of administrative resources, intimidation, and all of this, of course, has raised concerns about the right of voters to vote in a free environment.”
The head of the OSCE observation mission focuses on the election period On the characteristics of media work as well. According to him, “the diverse media landscape was sharply polarized.”
“There was little analytical and selective coverage, which later limited the ability of voters to make informed choices. The media environment was sharply polarized, which was reflected in the sharp divisions between the ruling party and the opposition. The results of the media monitoring conducted by the Election Observation Mission showed that the coverage was highly selective because of all this, the voter had a limited opportunity to make an informed choice. Broadcast channels covered the elections intensively, but mostly focused on three political parties, the Georgian Dream, the United National Movement, and the Party for Georgia. “Analytical and investigative aspects were less covered.”
According to Albert Johnson, violence against journalists and cases of intimidation are a matter of concern.
According to the head of the OSCE monitoring mission, international observers also focused on “Significant imbalance of resources”, Which later reflected on the “advantages and benefits” of the ruling party.
Representatives of the International Election Observation Mission focused on the October 2 local elections On the low representation of women:
“All of this has shown that more commitment and responsibility is needed to ensure adequate representation of women in politics.” The share of women in the total did not reach 42.5%. “
According to Albert Johnson, Election Day was generally held in a calm and peaceful environment, organized, however, there were incidents of separate violence. The International Monitoring Mission assessed the voting procedure positively. According to him, the vote counting process was also assessed as transparent, however, “In some areas there were procedural shortcomings and difficulties in filling in the protocols.”
The head of the observation mission said at a press conference on October 3 that in the country, the electoral legal framework provides an adequate basis for holding democratic elections, although he said that Several recommendations from the ODIHR and the Venice Commission remain uninformed, Especially recommendations related to resolving election disputes and misuse of state resources.
According to Albert Johnson, the representatives of the Observation Mission expressed confidence in the accuracy of the voter lists, while “Many opposition candidates withdrew from the candidate registration process because of pressure from the authorities.”
According to the head of the observation mission, during the October 2 elections, Previous ODIHR recommendations were not followed, Which are related to the expansion of the legal framework and the expedited consideration of any type of election complaint:
“Members of the observation mission expressed a lack of trust among the election commission’s competencies, as well as in law enforcement agencies, that election-related disputes would be handled impartially and effectively.” – Says Albert Johnson.
A total of 338 international observers observed the local elections. Among them, 30 observers have been in Georgia since September 4.