International Observers Positively Assess Run-Offs in Georgia

TBILISI – International observers assessed Georgia’s October 30 run-offs positively, saying that despite the lack of a legal framework, they were competitive and administered in a manner that respected the rights of the candidates and voters.

The International Election Observation Mission for the second round consisted of observers from 27 countries, as well as long-term and short-term observers of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the European Parliament (EP) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

According to Ignacio Sanchez Amor, the Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission, full regulation of second round voting is lacking in the law, and attention should be paid to legal investigation and complaints procedures.

“But I was pleased to see that Election Day was smooth and professionally run,” he added.

The observers stressed that the Election Code does not regulate the second round.

“Aiming to address a few procedural gaps, the Central Election Commission (CEC) issued decrees that were, however, adopted late in the process, interpreted the law in a contentious manner, and, at times, contradicted the Election Code,” the statement of the observers reads.

However, generally, the observers said that media coverage was more balanced than for the first round and Election Day procedures were conducted in a smooth and professional manner.

International observers assessed the voting process more positively than in the first round, saying station commissions were better prepared and adherence to procedures improved.

“The second round reconfirmed that Georgia’s 2016 parliamentary elections enabled candidates to campaign freely and voters to make informed choices about their options,” Sanchez Amor added.

Following the international observers’ assessments, the United States (US) congratulated the Georgians on the successful completion of the parliamentary elections, saying they affirm that Georgia is a leader of democratic reform in the region.

However, the US side said they are concerned about isolated incidents of violence and intimidation and urged accountability as well as a thorough and balanced investigation in accordance with the rule of law. 

“We look forward to working with the new government and parliament to support Georgia’s democratic and economic development, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” the statement of the White House reads.

By Thea Morrison

Photo: A voter casts her ballot in Georgia's second round of parliamentary elections in Mtskheta. Source: OSCE/Lauren Baranowska

03 November 2016 09:21