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NDI releases final election report, highlights pros and cons

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 17
The United States National Democratic Institute (NDI) has released its final report on Georgia’s last month’s Parliamentary Elections, saying the race was characterised by an open political environment and a competitive campaign but there were violations that needed to be addressed.

The NDI said Georgians had the freedom to form and join political parties, stressing that parties and candidates gained access to the ballot box without facing unreasonable restrictions or discrimination.

The final report reads that parties and candidates were able to campaign throughout the country, and were free to express their messages to the public and had adequate opportunities to do so, particularly given “Georgia’s vibrant and pluralistic media environment”.

The organisation also said citizens of Georgia were able to exercise their voting rights freely.

With regards to the problems that flared up during the election, the NDI stressed the most pressing of these were incidents of violence and intimidation that occurred throughout the process, as well as concerns about the qualifications, neutrality, and competence of some polling station commissioners as well as questions about the impartiality and consistency of arbitration measures.

“In addition, the elections underscored shortcomings related to the legal framework, parties’ campaign strategies, election observation, campaign financing and the misuse of administrative resources, and the under- representation of women and minority groups,” the NDI said.

The report noted that concerted efforts to address these issues now would help to ensure that Georgians have full confidence in future elections.

The report also included points for Georgia’s new Government and Parliament.

“Building trust in electoral integrity on all sides should be a priority for the new parliament and government, as well as all parties and civil society,” NDI said.

The NDI highlighted that in the wake of any democratic election, it became important for the parliament and new government to strive to represent all citizens, including those who did not vote for the majority party, and to seek to include a wide range of views in its decision making.

“The voices of opposition parties, both within and outside the parliament, independent media, and civil society groups should be respected and their rights should be defended,” the NDI said.