OSCE/ODIHR presents the final Report on Parliamentary Elections
By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, December 27
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights published the final report of the Election Observation mission. The report is a summary of the (OSCE/ODIHR) election observation mission (EOM), deployed on August 22 to observe the October 1, 2012 parliamentary elections. The electoral process was assessed “for compliance with OSCE commitments, other international standards for democratic elections as well as national legislation. For Election Day observation, the OSCE/ODIHR joined efforts with observer delegations from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the European Parliament (EP), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA).”
OSCE is satisfied with the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC). CEC operated “efficiently and transparently, holding frequent meetings that were open to observers, party representatives and media.”
Despite the overall positive assessment of the election process, OSCE and the work of (CEC) still marks certain issues which remain to be addressed.
The distinction between state activities and the campaign of the ruling party was at times blurred, and at odds with the OSCE 1990 Copenhagen Document.
The report reviews some key issues from the legal framework and media environment during the election campaign and the day of the elections.
While the OSCE welcome positive amendments made both to the electoral system and the legal framework, the organization still reiterates one of the key recommendations “to address the disparity of the population size in single mandate constituencies for parliamentary elections”. In addition, the OSCE/ODIHR recommends reviewing and harmonizing provisions of the Criminal Code and the Election Code on vote buying.
The report emphasizes the division of media outlets along political lines, saying that only few succeeded in pursuing a more independent editorial policy. Comparing TV to print media sources, the latter was less influenced and offered a wider range of political views. Some private television (TV) channels had limited coverage within the country, preventing the spread of a wide variety of information.
According to the report, consideration should be also given to “limiting the rates for paid political advertising and align them with the rates for regular commercial advertising.” On some occasions, Rustavi 2 and Imedi were charging significantly high fees (over 20,000 GEL per minute) for paid political advertisements.
The OSCE reiterates the recommendation about the ‘Must Carry’ principle and advises to insert the corresponding provisions in the Law on Broadcasting without limiting the election campaign period.
The OSCE/ODIHR expressed its readiness to support Georgia in its efforts to implement the recommendations provided in the report, which are “meant to set out ways in which the electoral process may further be improved.”