Evaluation of electoral environment
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) officially launched monitoring of the pre-election period for the 2016 parliamentary elections. On June 21, ISFED presented evaluation of electoral environment. The document summarizes the developments in which the official pre-election campaign started ahead of the October 8 Parliamentary elections of 2016.
Despite a number of initiatives, there have been no substantial improvements in the electoral system of Georgia ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections. Redrawing boundaries of single-mandate majoritarian districts and increasing threshold do not sufficiently addressing all problems related to the electoral system. Additionally, several pending drafts of amendments to legal framework for elections have not yet been passed. Although recent activities of the electoral management body (EMB) have been positive, certain concerns have been raised by the process of recruitment of district electoral commission (DEC) members and inconsistent approach of DECs to complaints.
Pre-election environment is jeopardized by violence against politicians and attempts of blackmail by videos of private life, as well as by the state’s ineffective response to such incidents. Legal disputes over ownership of TV companies and suspension of several major talk shows during pre-election period have raised concerns about media environment. Existence of media outlets that are critical of ruling political groups is essential during the pre-election period.
For improving the pre-election environment, ISFED recommends the following:
• Relevant legal amendments should be adopted in a timely manner, in order to allow election stakeholders to launch a fully-fledged electoral campaign;
• Within the remaining session period, the parliament should support bills that aim to make meaningful as opposed to superficial changes for substantial improvement of the legal framework for elections;
• Response of government and law enforcement authorities to acts of violence against politically active individuals should be strict, timely and effective;
• Political subjects should ensure prevention of any type of violence, incitement or encouragement of violence by their supporters against opponents;
• The electoral management body should ensure consistent interpretation of all ambiguities related to election disputes and informing all stakeholders;
• Pluralistic and critical coverage of electoral processes must be ensured. Any attempts of political or artificial interference with media’s editorial policy must be prevented.
ISFED will monitor the pre-election environment through nearly 70 long-term observers throughout the country. ISFED monitoring will focus on the work of electoral commissions, meetings of political parties with voters, possible pre-election violations, including harassment/threats, vote buying or use of administrative resources for elections. ISFED will periodically publish interim reports and statements about the monitoring to keep public informed.
Joint web-portal of NGOs – www.electionsportal.ge - will be used by ISFED, GYLA and Transparency International - Georgia to map pre-election incidents throughout the country. Any individual will be able to report incidents through the web-portal or by sending a text message to a toll-free number 90039.
This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of ISFED and may not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.