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Code of Conduct for Political Parties adopted

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 24
The Parliament of Georgia approved the Code of Conduct for Political Parties in the Election Period, a document which specifies the obligatory rules of behaviour for election subjects in pre-election and election periods for the parliamentary race scheduled on October 8.

Seven parliamentary factions initiated the project , which was supported by 87 lawmakers out of the 150-seat legislative bodies, as the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party was not present at the plenary session.

The UNM boycotted the parliament sessions at the end of last month as they demanded a comprehensive investigation into the May 22 by-election clash in Georgia’s western Zugdidi municipality, which left several UNM leaders badly beaten.

The initiators of the project factions - Free Democrats, Georgian-Dream Democratic Georgia, Republicans, Georgian Dream-Industrials, Georgian Dream Conservatives and the National Forum - hoped that the UNM would also join the initiative.

The Code of Conduct for Political Parties in Election Period reads:

Political subjects are obliged to intensively cooperate with international observation missions, both in pre-election and election periods, and provide them with all necessary information for them to draft their assessments over the pre-election and election situations in Georgia;

The Code strongly prohibits politization of state structures and state servants, police and use of administrative resources;

The Code says the Government must prevent any violations, towards media among them. For its part, the media is obliged to provide fair and balanced coverage of the pre-election and election processes.

“The document was adopted through a large-scaled consensus. The UNM did not attend the voting process but we have had communication with them and we had hoped they will also support the Code,” Parliament Chair Davit Usupashvili said.

Usupashvili stressed the Code was for conducting fair and transparent elections.

“Rivalry between political parties mustn’t disturb normal conduct of the elections,” Usupashvili added.

Prior to the adoption of the Code, the UNM said they did not trust the Government, especially after the by-election clash. Several members of the Government stated the violence was staged by the UNM in an attempt to show that the Government could not ensure a peaceful electoral atmosphere.

The adoption of the Code is a progressive step; it remains to be seen whether political parties (and the government) will abide by it.

In previous years, successive governments freely used administrative resources to propagate their own parties, which is now prohibited.

It will also be interesting how the local media - especially leading TV channels - will manage to provide balanced and impartial coverage of the election process.

Election campaigning in Georgia started on June 8. It will soon be easy to see if the Code is being violated by political actors.