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Central Election Commission getting ready

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, August 24
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has sprung into activity in Georgia. It has been established as a tradition in the country that after any new election the opposition announces that these have been manipulated whereas the CEC denies such allegations. On its side it starts a new cycle of elections, compiling new members for the Central Election Commission thus developing a four-year strategic project for future activities.

The strategic plan for the future elections embraces the period of 2011-2015. In this period of time Georgia has to hold four elections. In 2012 there are elections in the Georgian Parliament and Adjara Supreme Council; in 2013 – Presidential and in 2014 – Local Governance elections. The CEC targets three main goals for this period: modernizing elections administration, cooperation with the interested parties and informing the population about the elections.

This strategic plan envisages the creation of resource centers. In the beginning four resource centers would start functioning but by the spring 2012 every region will have one or two resource centers which will be functioning not only during the elections but permanently. They should provide major support for the election administration in the regions. They should carry out serious educational activities among the voters and the representatives of the civil society. They will also assist different political parties during the pre-election campaigning.

The major sign of independence and impartial position of those should be the allocation of the local elections commissions outside the administrative buildings. This would be symbolic to show that elections commissions are not under the control of the executive power.

As the Chairman of the CEC Zurab Kharatishvili stated, elections administration should be impartial and follow the rule of the law. Kharatishvili thinks that the main idea is to develop trust towards the elections.

The plans are very attractive however there are some obstacles for implementing these ambitious plans. Firstly, it is to acquire trust from the opposition parties. The major demand for many elections from the opposition side is the formation of genuine lists for voters, taking so called “dead souls” from those lists. The opposition six demand the introduction of biometric IDs for the forthcoming elections. Kharatishvili thinks this issue should be decided among the parties and the Central Election Commission will abide by their decision. Kharatishvili mentioned that OSCE recommendations after the last elections envisage some changes on the legislative level and the CEC should consider those recommendations. One of such recommendations is increasing the qualification of the members on the elections commission in the regions. This is being carried out through training programs.

Of course there were and still are disputes over the elections environment, however it is unlikely that the ruling administration would agree to any radical changes.

If we realize how large the stakes are on the table for the ruling party and the opposition, we should conclude that the CEC's claims to be independent and unbiased would be difficult as both sides will be arguing until the bitter end.