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‘Little time left’ to fix election law, ODIHR chief says

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, March 12
Yesterday a top OSCE official emphasized the urgent need for the government and opposition to reach a consensus on the “outstanding legislative changes required to improve the electoral framework.”

“There is little time left to finalize the necessary legal amendments to address remaining inconsistencies and gaps in the election code,” Christian Strohal, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said.

Strohal was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Georgia during which he met government and opposition figures, media representatives and election administration officials.

Among the electoral changes recommended in a 2006 joint report by the OSCE and a Council of Europe commission was allowing non-party candidates to run in parliamentary elections and guarantees for the “inclusiveness, transparency and non-interference in election administration bodies.”

The report also suggested that the vote threshold for parliamentary representation, previously at seven percent, should be lowered to between three and five percent. Constitutional amendments now making their way through parliament would set the bar at five percent.

Last week the OSCE/ODIHR released its final report on the recent presidential election, which notes the lack of transparency and competence in the work of election commissions during vote counts, among other flaws in the election process.

“We expect authorities to show strong commitment to address the shortcomings highlighted in the report and make further progress towards ensuring conditions conducive for elections in line with OSCE commitments,” Strohal said yesterday.

He added that changes to the election code should take place in an “inclusive and transparent manner to increase confidence and trust by all stakeholders in the electoral process.”