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Observers evaluate election day

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, October 10
Foreign and local observing organisations have assessed the election process and said that the October 8 Parliamentary Elections were held mainly in a calm environment, but they say there were certain cases that must be investigated, and the Central Election Commission (CEC) might annul the results on some polling stations.

The NGOs say that significant violation took place in Marneuli, in the Kvemo Kartli region, where at the polling station number 48 in the village of Kizilajlo, local supporters of various political parties gathered near the polling station and raided it. They threw stones at the building and attacked police officers. It was reported that a group of people wanted to steal the ballot box but failed.

“The law enforcement agencies reacted timely and they managed to defuse the situation. The work of the police can be assessed positively,” the report of the NGO Transparency International (TI) Georgia reads.

The NGOs also condemned a violent incident in the village of Jikhashkari, in the Samegrelo region, where a group of people attacked polling stations number 79 and 108, smashed the ballot boxes and raided the buildings.

The third sector also pointed out a physical confrontation at Kutaisi polling station No 90, where supporter of various parties physically assaulted each other. One foreign observer was also physically abused.

The NGOs reported on the lack of qualifications of polling station commission members, especially in the regions populated with ethnic minorities.

“Important examples of the poor qualification of commissions are Sagarejo, Marneuli, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. The lack of qualification gave the root to the other methodical violations throughout the country,” the report of the TI reads.

Ana Natsvlishvili, Chair of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), also assessed the situation. She said that the elections quality this year has worsened compared to 2013-2014.

Natsvlishvili stated that generally the voting took place in a peaceful environment, except significant violations in several regions.

“Violations were reported during counting of votes and tabulation of election results. There were attempts of breaking into the polling stations, that affected the process of elections and significantly damaged the overall situation," she stated.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) also monitored the election process. The organization conducted parallel vote tabulation (PVT), according to which, the ruling party Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia received between 48.2% and 50.0% of votes, while the main opposition party United National Movement got around 25.9% -27.7%.

The organization monitored the vote counting with parallel vote tabulation (PVT) methodology, which independently verifies the accuracy of the data announced by the Central Election Commission.

The NGOs overall assessed the whole election process as “satisfactory” but not “exemplary”. They gave the CEC and law enforcement agencies recommendations to raise the qualification of the administrative employees and to investigate the violations timely.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA) released a statement regarding the violations described by the NGOs.

The MIA reports that the agency carried out all appropriate measures to prevent the incidents in Marneuli, Jikhashkari and Kutaisi.

The Ministry has launched investigations into all the reported cases, saying it will “adequately react to any kind of violation of law in the future and will take measures envisaged by the law in order to ensure safety.”

The International Republican Institute (IRI) said that the parliamentary elections were held in a mostly quiet and peaceful atmosphere and the outcomes seem to reflect the will of the voters.

The report of the monitoring mission says that the elections were well-administered. The International Republican Institute urges Georgians to take consistent steps in the political campaign after the first round.

"By taking into view the internal political tension and constant pressure from the outside, participation of Georgians in the elections as voters, candidates, parties and election officials was welcomed. We hope that similar approach and involvement will be maintained over the next weeks," said the head of the mission.

Observers reported that the elections were well organized for the most part, but there are still a number of cases that need improvement.

The IRI report is based on data provided by 20 groups of observers.

“The October 8 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia were competitive, well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected,” concluded OSCE observing mission.

Paolo Alli, head of the NATO PA delegation said there were "some shortcomings” in the campaign environment but he added:

"The big picture however is clear: Georgia has reaffirmed its status as the leader of democratic transformation in this region.”