2017 Elections of Local Self-Government Bodies: Evaluation of the Pre-Election Period of the Runoffs
Runoffs of the 21 October 2017 local self-government elections will be held on November 12, in districts of Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, Borjomi, Khashuri, Martvili and Kazbegi. The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) was monitoring the election campaign process in all six districts through its long-term observers (LTOs).
The monitoring found that the period between the first and the second round of local self-government elections was marked by instances of harassment/intimidation on political grounds and misuse of administrative resources in Ozurgeti, which threaten equal and free pre-election environment.
ISFED identified 4 cases of harassment/intimidation and 1 case of possible vote buying in Ozurgeti District. Almost all instances involved different civil servants of Ozurgeti Municipality, who were acting in favor of the mayoral candidate of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, Beglar Sioridze. In some cases, in interviews with ISFED observer residents of Ozurgeti confirmed reports of intimidation and vote buying but have asked not to be identified with their name. In addition to Ozurgeti, one case involving a threat to terminate employment on political grounds was found in Khashuri District.
In view of these facts and trends identified during the first round, ISFED urges local self-governments, political parties and candidates to refrain from vote buying or harassment on the Election Day, as well as from any actions that may be perceived as exercise of control over the will of voters, including collection of information about voters that arrive at polls. ISFED also urges the electoral administration to ensure protection of personal data of voters and free expression of voter’s will.