Second Interim Report
During the reporting period the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) monitored pre-election campaign throughout all municipalities of Georgia.
ISFED’s coordinators attended total of 134 public meetings from April 20 to May 11, 2014, including including 45 meetings held by the coalition Georgian Dream, 24 by the Unite National Movement, 21 by Nino Burjanadze - Unified Opposition, 6 by the Labor Party of Georgia, 2 by the Future Georgia, 23 by the Georgian Way, 32 by the Alliance of Georgian Patriots, 2 by the People's Party and 8 by the Non-parliamentary opposition (Kakha Kukava, Pikria Chikhradze).
• One important trend observed during the reporting period was use of public resources; in particular, in cases ISFED identified a number of new projects initiated and budget amendments made by the ruling party, total of seven cases. In particular,
• Under the resolution of the Government of Georgia, enacted four days prior to the official announcement of the date of elections, funding for projects to be implemented in local self-governments was increased from 2 914 241 to 139 987 531 laris;
• On the day of scheduling the elections, a resolution of the Government of Georgia was enacted for provision of one-time pecuniary assistance to families who lost their breadwinners in WWII;
• During the pre-election period the Prime Minister unveiled the initiative increasing wages for doctors;
• During the pre-election period wages of employees of Dedoplistskaro pre-school center were increased;
• Infrastructural project in Poti that had previously been terminated was renewed;
• 6 million laris were allocated from the budget by Adjara Government for covering beneficiaries’ loans from Liberty Bank;
• On the day of scheduling the elections, budget of the City of Batumi was increased with 10 million laris for funding of health, social and infrastructural programs. Majority of the funds – 7 200 000 laris was allocated among infrastructure projects. 500 000 laris will be added to funding of social and health programs.
• Wages of Dedoplistskaro pre-school center were increased during pre-election period.
ISFED believes that launch of various projects during the pre-election period can be viewed as part of the pre-election campaign and may pose a threat of using state budget funds for political purposes. We believe that had there been a political will, these projects could have been implemented prior to the launch of the pre-election campaign, in a planned and consistent manner, without engendering any suspicions about abuse of public funds in favor of the pre-election campaign.
• During the reporting period, illegal use of state-owner transport vehicles for the purposes of pre-election campaign by Kharagauli Gamgebeli and Gamgeoba employees was also identified;
• One case of participation of unauthorized individuals in the pre-election campaign was also found; in particular, in the village of Gomi in Kaspi Municipality trustee and a specialist of a territorial unit collected signatures for supporting a candidate during working hours. They also publicly expressed their support for the candidate. Pursuant to the Election Code, working on the list of supporters as well as any public actions in support of the candidate’s winning of elections is considered to be agitation and public servants employed at local self-government agencies are prohibited from engaging in such actions during office hours.
• 6 alleged acts of vote buying were also identified and in particular, transfer of gifts or monetary sums to voters by various individuals engaged in the pre-election campaign or those related to such individuals. The Election Code as well as the Law of Georgia on Political Union of Citizens prohibit transfer of monetary sums, gifts and other material values to voters by election subject candidates and their representatives personally or by someone else to citizens of Georgia.
• One act of disruption of pre-election campaign was identified; in particular, candidate of Georgia’s Way for the office of Mayor was unlawfully prevented from holding a meeting in one of the buildings in Rustavi.
• Dismissal of Kvareli Municipality Gamgebeli caused noise and confrontation. The dismissed Gamgebeli alleges that his possible participation in the elections is the reason of Sakrebulo’s campaign against him and the attempts to discredit him.
• A representative of the Labor Party made xenophobic remarks during pre-election campaign, which is absolutely unacceptable for us. Respective party should take adequate further actions in response.
• One controversial issue identified during the reporting period was related to the number to be used by the United National Movement on the ballot papers. With its May 13, 2014 resolution the Central Elections Commission decided to give the UNM right to use number five. We believe that the decision has been made on the basis of right interpretation of election norms.
• Notably, ISFED identified gross gender inequality among candidates currently nominated by political parties, as there is virtually no representation of women candidates.