PACE Delegation Assesses Pre-Election Environment in Georgia

A five-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which visited Georgia on September 20-21 led by Andrej Hunko, says that the general environment in the country is appropriate for democratic elections.

However, the delegation added “there still was room for improvement and that the period of time left until election day should allow at least some of these improvements to be realized.”

According to the delegation, they were informed that the media landscape is polarized and heard allegations of hate speech and of personal attacks against candidates, led by certain media outlets and on social media.

The delegation urged all media to focus on candidates’ political programs and give them a balanced representation, even though there are a large number of candidates.

Moreover, the delegation said the Central Election Committee (CEC) acted professionally and was preparing the election well but they added that criticism coming from civil society concerning the methodology used for selecting some members of lower election bodies had led to suspicions of nepotism and political interest.

“It should be taken seriously into account, in order to increase public trust in the election administration at all levels,” the statement of the delegation reads.

The members of the delegation welcomed the active role played by civil society during the pre-election period, and recalled that civil society is one of the main players in a true democracy and should be respected as such.

The PACE delegation expects no misuse of administrative resources during this election campaign, as was reported in past elections. It also underlined the need for complete transparency concerning the campaign financing of all candidates.

In addition, the delegation called on all stakeholders to contribute towards a genuinely democratic election campaign based on mutual respect.

The statement also says that a 33-member delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will come to Georgia prior to observe the October 28 presidential elections.

By Thea Morrison

21 September 2018 11:30