Georgia has taken an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections, although certain key issues remain to be addressed, representatives of international observing missions stated at a press conference assessing the preliminary results of the election on October 2.
Georgia passes the test of democracy
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 3
In general, overall conclusion of parliamentary elections from the observing missions’ side was positive.
According to them, the elections were competitive, with active citizen participation through the campaign. However, “the campaign environment was polarized and tense, with some instances of violence." The representatives also underscored that the campaign often centered on the advantages of incumbency on the one hand, and private financial assets on the other, rather than on concrete political platforms and programs.
However, the special coordinator leading the OSCE short term observing mission, Tonino Picula, emphasized that “despite a very polarized campaign that included harsh rhetoric and shortcomings, the Georgian people have freely expressed their will at the ballot box.”
“Despite these shortcomings, the elections were very competitive,” Luka Volonte, the head of the PACE delegation highlighted. According to him, the political forces which will be represented in the parliament should work together and address all shortcomings for the further development.
Head of the delegation of the NATO parliamentary Assembly, Assen Agov, shifted more attention on public activeness in the election process. He emphasized that the main players were people in the current events.
“We were impressed that the mass rallies were peaceful and the heartfelt involvement we saw can only bode well for Georgia’s future,” Agov said.
The head of the EU's Parliamentary delegation, Milan Cabrnoch, stated that Georgia is an important partner for the EU and the organization will continue to be a steadfast supporter of promoting democratic reforms in the country. However, according to him, the collaboration will be successful only in the case that the elected power, both opposition and majority, will carry out reforms that will be beneficial for Georgians.
“Yesterday’s election highlights the role that key democratic institutions play when they act professionally and impartially,” said Nikolai Vulchanov, the Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term election observation mission. “Elements of the legal framework however, should still be improved and the ODIHR and the Council of Europe stand ready to continue their productive co-operation with the Georgian authorities on this front.”
The delegation representatives also highlighted that the law on political unions should be modified and situations concerning disproportional fines should be changed. The representatives also mentioned that women’s role in Georgian politics should be encouraged.
The monitors also touched upon news coverage and emphasized that only Georgian Public Broadcaster provided politically balanced news coverage of the campaign.
“No other monitored TV channels did so,” the representative states.
They also underscored that Must Carry- Must Offer played a significant role in increasing the audience of opposition-leaning TV channels.
Presumably, the final assessments of the international observers will be presented in 6-8 weeks.