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NGOs on election situation

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 23
The Election campaign and the related issues were the topics Georgian NGOs shifted attention to on July 22. NGOs claim that the current election environment absolutely differs from the one in 2012. However, they spoke about the possible threats and appeal to the government to take the opposition’s demands into account.

Based on the first election report delievered by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy- ISFED (covering July 1 to July 19), political parties are not as active for the presidential elections of 2013 as they were during the 2012 parliamentary elections.

The NGOs positively assessed the decision made by the Georgian Dream presidential candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili, when he quit the post before launching his own election campaigning.

“The step encourages setting high political values inside the country,” the ISFED report reads.

ISFED did not detect the fact using of administrative resources. However, the organization appealed to the current government not to repeat “old traditions” and avoid speaking on social-economic programs in the process of the election period.

ISFED stated that two facts of possible pressure on voters were revealed.

The organization did not detect the fact of bribing voters. However, ISFED touched upon the Fund for Agricultural Development that is being assisted by Cartu Fund, associated with Prime Minister, Bizdina Ivanishvili.

ISFED appealed to Cartu to refrain from contributing to the agricultural fund (that provides low interest rate loans to farmers) during the election period.

The NGO named election lists as the main problems in the election period and stressed the difficulty concerning 97, 000 voters who were just removed from the election lists due to the incorrect registration address.

“ISFED says that the list of removed voters should become public and active campaigning should be launched for voters’ to recheck themselves in the lists and newly register.” ISFED reads.

The NGOs also appealed to the new government of Georgia to fulfill the conditions of the memorandum signed by the majority of opposition parties and the majority regarding changes in the election code.

“It is important that the conditions of the memorandums be fulfilled, otherwise, signing of such memorandums might lose meaning in the future,” Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, said.

Chairperson of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Kakha Kozhoridze, stated that ignorance of the memorandum from the government’s side “can not be justified.”

“The ruling party and the opposition agreed on the memorandum text and they signed it. After the fact neglecting the agreement from the coalition’s side will not be right. The opposition wants a meeting with Prime Minister. According to them, only the PM can solve the problem,” Kozhoridze suggested.

The opposition claims that the main aim of the opposition parties is creating an equal environment and conditions for all the parties. They are demanding a meeting with Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to them it is essential their remarks are reflected in the changes of the election code.

Coalition MP, Zakaria Kutsnashvili, states that the non-parliamentary opposition wanted to get 1 million GEL financing before the elections for all the parties.

“It is not my or my relative’s money, we are speaking about state funds and it is not right if all who want to take part in the elections get 1 million beforehand,” Kutsnashvili said. Based on the majority’s initiative, only those political entities get 1 million after the elections that will overcome 10% threshold.

The Prime Minister stated that he would study the demands and will meet with the opposition members if it is necessary.