The messenger logo

Georgian parliamentary elections: The world is watching

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 19
Various US and international representatives have made significant statements concerning Georgia's parliamentary elections planned for October 1. The statements emphasize the Georgian Government’s role in holding of free and transparent elections and call the upcoming elections a litmus test for democracy. The statements also highlight US support for the Georgian people and the country itself, not a concrete political team.

A joint statement made by the four American congressmen, Jo Anne Emerson, Mike Turner, Mike Ross and Ben Chandler addressed the positive accomplishments the Georgian government has managed to achieve. According to them, “Georgia has put a robust system in place to support a free and fair electoral process.”

The Congressmen urged all political actors to respect the outcome, put their differences aside and work together peacefully to move the country forward. Any sort of post-election attempts aimed at creating unrest, or at subverting the political will of the electorate, would be a grave injustice to the Georgian people and “would certainly be met with a high level of criticism both at home and abroad,” they warned.

“The world will be watching the coming election very carefully. Georgia’s very future is at stake here, as is its reputation in the international community. These elections will be an important test for Georgia’s democracy,” the joint statement reads.

Former Deputy U.S. Secretary of Defense Celeste A. Wallander spoke about the government’s major role in holding free elections in her interview with Voice of America.

Wallander explained that transparency is the main condition for elections and the transparency should be ensured by the government. According to her, the state government is obliged to create a transparent and fair pre-election and election environment, ensure the existence of accurate voters’ lists and the ability for opposition parties to carry out a real pre-election campaign.

“The opposition parties are also responsible to act within the law, but once again I want to say that the government should do everything to ensure a free electoral environment in the remaining period before the elections,” Wallander said.

EU Ambassador to Georgia, Philip Dimitrov stated that the Georgian pre-election period is too intensive and crowded with events. He hinted at some problems in the country concerning the elections. However, he believes that the Georgian people are politically savvy enough to make an informed choice.

“I anticipate an election in which people will be able to express their political choice”, Dimitrov said.

The United National Movement (UNM) claims that it is doing its best to create a maximally fair and transparent election environment in the country. They frequently emphasize the fact that they have invited foreign observers several months before the elections and are not creating obstacles for their political opponents. The UNM also highlights that the elections will be held in a democratic manner and will be recognized and confirmed by credible international organizations. According to the members of the ruling party, post-election unrest might be in the interest of some oppositional factions.

“The election will be an exam that will tell us if we will preserve our current rate of development. It is the most significant election in Georgian history,” Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava said.

The main opponent of the ruling team, the Georgian Dream coalition, denies these accusations and states that there will be no need for street rallies after the elections. “The [sheer] quantity of international observers makes us confident that the UNM will not be able to fake the elections. We will recognize the outcome of the elections which are to be confirmed by influential international organizations,” the coalition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili said.

Unlike the above-mentioned political parties, representative of the parliamentary minority Christian-Democratic Movement, Inga Grigolia, spoke on the “inevitable post-election street rallies.”

According to Grigolia, if the elections are held in a democratic manner, none of the parties will manage to achieve an absolute majority in the parliament.

“Currently, the disappearance of the UMN from the political arena is less possible. However, there is a chance the party will not achieve a majority in the parliament. I think that street rallies on October 2 are expected, as neither side is going to concede in the battle,” Grigolia said.