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On the Code of Conduct for Political Parties

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, September 15
On September 12th, Central Election Commission –(CEC) published a statement on the Code of Conduct for Political Parties, which is a set of norms of voluntary ethics for the upcoming 2020 parliamentary elections in Georgia developed by CEC with the help of international partners and within the participation of political parties. The code is aimed at protecting democratic values and fundamental freedoms, also, conduct of substantive, program-oriented, inclusive election campaigns, which assures that equal opportunities are provided for electoral stakeholders.

The Code of Conduct for Political Parties was developed in response to the recommendations received from numerous reports by international election observation missions and other international shareholders. The recommendations regarded setting and development of standards which would regulate ethical election campaigns, including the prevention of the spread of hate speech and xenophobia. The statement reads that a similar recommendation was made in the relevant report of the Public Defender of Georgia (ombudsman), where the ombudsman calls on the Central Election Commission of Georgia to develop and propose to the political parties the document of mutual agreement “on the use of hate speech during the election period, uniform definition of hate speech and refraining from such statements.”

According to the statement, the process of drafting a code was facilitated by the support of Switzerland, the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The Code of Conduct for Political Parties complies with recognised international standards and is based on the principles of ethics signed by the presidential candidates, organised by CEC with the support of Switzerland, during the presidential elections of 2018.

CEC notes that the code is also based on the universally recognised principles of electoral ethics and includes the standards on fair and decent competition, recognition and respect for the rights of voters and participant parties.

The signature of the code (printed or e-version) is provided to all political unions registered for the elections and if desired, parties can join it with the signature of the chairperson.

In the statement published by the Embassy of Switzerland to Georgia, Switzerland congratulates political parties that have signed the Code of Conduct and encourages all parties to join.

“We call the parties to abide by the Code of Conduct, . . . to promote a constructive election environment, ensuring mutual respect and diversity. Switzerland is proud to contribute to facilitating political dialogue and strengthening democracy in Georgia, which is part of its strategy for supporting democratic processes and conflict prevention worldwide,” reads the statement.

US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan believes that CEC deserves commendation for drafting the Code of Conduct and recommends political parties to sign it. According to her, the code will facilitate the conduction of ‘free, fair and transparent’ elections.