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Observers assess election run-offs in Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, November 1
The International Election Observation Mission for the second round of parliamentary elections of Georgia, held on October 30, stated that the parliamentary run-offs were competitive and administered in a manner that respected the rights of candidates and voters, mainly assessing the run-offs positively.

“Although, issues remain related to lacking a legal framework for second round elections and complaints related to first round results,” the international observers concluded in a statement released yesterday.

The International Election Observation Mission for the second round consists of 156 observers from 27 countries, including 129 long-term and short-term observers deployed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), 12 parliamentarians and staff from the European Parliament (EP), eight from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) and seven from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“The recond round reconfirmed that Georgia’s 2016 parliamentary elections enabled candidates to campaign freely and voters to make informed choices about their options,” said Ignacio Sanchez Amor, the Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission.

However, Ambassador Alexandre Keltchewsky, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission, stated that the lack of a legal framework for the second round had a noticeable impact on the process.

“Further steps should and can be made to address remaining challenges in law and practice and ODIHR is ready to assist the Georgian authorities in this process,” he added.

Also, the international observers noted that media coverage was more balanced than for the first round.

”Election day procedures were conducted in a smooth and professional manner,” the International observers assessed and underlined that the voting process during the run-offs was more positive than in the first round

“Polling station commissions were better prepared and adherence to procedures improved,” they added.

Moreover, local NGOs also assessed the election process as mainly calm and organized. However, they highlighted some violations and issued recommendations to.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), whose 700-member observing mission monitored the voting process in all 50 districts, stated the main process was calm and the voters were able to express their will.

But the NGO also revealed some major violations, such as the mismatch of bulletins and signatures number, improper filling/correcting of some summary protocols, breach of the confidentiality of vote and voting without proper inking.

“However, these violations had no systematic nature and they could not have had significant impact on the election results,” the statement of the ISFED reads.

Another NGO, Transparency International (TI) Georgia, also monitored the election run-off with its 250 observers and stated that the electoral process was conducted in a calm environment. However, the NGO found 70 relatively serious procedural violations and filed 11 complaints.

As for the NGO Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), its 400 observers wrote 60 complaints and 59 notes.

GYLA Head, Ana Natsvlishvili said that during the second round only one case of physical abuse was observed in Gori, Shida Kartli Region and also one case of interference with the work of the media representatives in Batumi.

“Despite the first round, significant shortcomings in vote-counting and tabulation process were not observed during the run-offs,” stated Natsvlishvili.

The local NGOs released several recommendations, asking Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia to raise the qualifications for the electoral staff, change the rules of the formation of the elections commission, establish e-voting system, react in time to all kinds of violations and to start thinking about establishing a new electoral system in Georgia that will reflect the amount of votes of the political parties to the mandates that they receive.