Foreign observers from National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the OSCE/ODIHR have assessed Georgia’s October 21 municipal elections as calm, but stating that one-party governance hasbeen strengthened.
Foreign observers discuss challenges of one-party dominance
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 24
The observers stressed that the registration of voters by some party supporters at polling stations was an act of “intimidation.”
“Georgia appears to have reinforced governance marked by one party’s dominance at all levels of elected office,” an NDI statement on preliminary results reads. The statement stresses that this characteristic “poses a challenge to democratic governance going forward.”
According to the organization's observers the tendency of one-party governance has been characteristic of all governments since Georgia gained its independence in the beginning of 1990ies.
The statement continues further that the “consolidation of power in one party” endangers “prospects for vibrant and pluralistic democracy.”
“The responsibility, of course, lies with country’s leaders to create an environment that promotes a genuinely inclusive governing processes and strengthens democratic checks and balances,” NDI says as reported by civil.ge.
At the same time, the NDI document states that no serious incidents have taken place on the election day. Georgian citizens, members of election commissions, party activists and candidates have demonstrated the commitment to democratic principles.
The vote counting process, according to NDI, was largely calm, but observers also noted some serious procedural violations, which was caused by inadequate knowledge of the procedures by commission members and interference of observers affiliated with the parties.
Over the pre-election period, NDI emphasized the inequality between the ruling and the opposition parties, which “prevented a healthy competition.”
The OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission also criticized the registration of voters at the polling stations stating it “is inadmissible.” However, the mission also mentioned the case was not equally widespread at all polling stations on October 21.
“It cannot be said it was a common trend – it was more intensive at some of the polling stations,” said head of the mission, Corien Jonker.
"It is absolutely inadmissible to register voters’ arrival at the polling station, as not taking part in the elections is also an expression of political will," he added.
Local observers also addressed the situation and appealed to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to take measures against this practice.
Georgians voted for 2,058 members of 64 city councils (Sakrebulo) and 64 municipal mayors.