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Budgetary Changes in Municipalities and Cases of Physical Confrontation in ISFED’s First Interim Report

On September 8, ISFED issued the first interim report of monitoring the pre-election environment of the 2017 Local Self-Government Elections. The report covers the period between July 24 and September 4, 2017 together with the developments that took place before July 24 but continued during the monitoring period.
Campaign took place in a mostly peaceful environment. ISFED observers monitored 82 public meetings held by electoral subjects. 
In the reporting period, ISFED observed 2 cases of physical violence, 2 cases of intimidation/harassment, 1 case of dismissal on alleged political ground, 3 cases of misuse of administrative resources, and 1 case of interference with observer activities. The process of composition of precinct electoral commissions (PECs) in 8 electoral districts went with certain irregularities. Social media was used for deliberately spreading fake reports against opposition candidates. Also, evident were the cases of possible mobilization of budgetary resources for electoral purpose in 37 municipalities and five instances of provision of medical services free of charge.
An important trend was that budget changes actively took place in a number of municipalities since June, while social and infrastructural projects envisaged by the state and the local self-government budgets are often planned in a manner that ensures conduct of main project activities during the campaign period. Such facts do not amount to a violation of the Election Code but they give an impression that scaling up of social and infrastructural projects and increase of their funding during the election period aim to increase voter satisfaction in favor of the ruling party.
Another noticeable trend was social media disinformation campaign against opposition candidates for the office of Tbilisi Mayor, possibly with the intent to discredit them. As the election period drew near, certain pages on Facebook became more active and were used to disseminate sponsored posts against opposition candidates for the office of Tbilisi Mayor. ISFED believes that such form of campaigning qualifies as pre-election canvassing and amounts to an illegal donation.
Irregularities were observed in the process of composition PECs in certain electoral districts. ISFED found the process of decision-making to be lacking transparency and raising questions in some districts. Further, the DECs disregarded that some candidates had been imposed with disciplinary liabilities during the last parliamentary elections and selected them as PEC members again.
The first interim report also presents recommendations for political parties and electoral subjects, local self-governments, electoral administration and the State Audit Office. Find out more about the pre-election violations and trends detected by ISFED in the interim report.
Publishing the report is made possible by the generous support from the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The contents of this publication belong solely to the ISFED and may not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government or NED