Instances of Harassment/Intimidation and Campaign Interference in ISFED’s Third Interim Report
On September 9, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) published the third interim report of pre-election monitoring for October 8, 2016 Parliamentary Elections. The report covers the period from August 8 to September 1.
During the reporting period a special electoral regime came into effect, as per Election Code. The election campaign became significantly active and ISFED observers monitored 439 public meetings.
As the electoral campaign moved into a more active phase, instances of alleged political intimidation/harassment against members of opposition parties and their activists grew considerably. Three incidents provided in this report suggest that law enforcement officers possibly exceeded their official powers. Incidents identified by the organization contain signs of a criminal offence and call for timely and effective response by law enforcement authorities.
In addition, instances of campaign interference, and attacks on offices of opposition parties took place in this period, putting free and fair electoral environment at risk. The reporting period saw several instances where campaign materials were damaged; no such violation had occurred before, during initial stages of the pre-election campaign.
During the reporting period, ISFED identified 11 instances of alleged political harassment/intimidation, 2 cases of physical violence, 1 case of possible vote buying, 5 cases of campaigning by unauthorized persons, 4 cases of misuse of administrative resources, 7 cases of campaign interference and 5 cases of damaging campaign materials.
Several irregularities were revealed in the practice of registration of electoral subjects at the Central Election Commission (CEC). Upon examining registration documents of the political union the Centrists, ISFED found that the CEC registered the party as political subject based on insufficient and unreliable documents. Information provided by the Public Registry presents grounds for abolishing electoral registration of yet another political party. It should also be noted that the Resolution #60/2016, adopted by the CEC on August 24, put into disadvantaged position those electoral subjects that have to participate in casting of lots in order to receive their electoral number.
The process of composition of PECs by professional members went with irregularities which raised important questions about the political impartiality of the PEC members. ISFED found out that selection of professional members at some PECs was conducted on the basis of pre-made lists. Opposition representatives allege that the lists were dominated by family members and relatives of Georgian Dream activists.
ISFED carries out the pre-election monitoring in all electoral districts of Georgia through 68 long-term observers.
ISFED maps all reports of pre-election incidents and possible violations on the interactive incident map available at the Georgian Elections Portal: http://www.electionsportal.ge/eng/. Anyone can report a possible violation to the Elections Portal by sending a text to a toll-free number 90039 or by going to http://www.electionsportal.ge/eng/new_incident.
This report is made possible by the support of the American people, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views expressed in this report reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID, the United States Government and the NED.