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OSCE releases final report on the 2020 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia

By Veronika Malinboym
Monday, March 8
On March 6, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) released its final reports on the conduct of the October 2020 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia. The report concluded that despite the challenges posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the elections were carried out with full respect to the principles of competitiveness and were overall “administered efficiently”.

Although the report found that “the freedoms of assembly, association, and expression were mostly respected, and contestants were generally able to campaign freely and without undue restrictions”, it did note some areas that needed improvement.

The OSCE report highlighted that “vibrant” campaigning in a “pluralistic media environment” ended up being quite polarized and some of the “private broadcasters were visibly partisan”. The OSCE observation mission also noted that despite the Georgian Constitution separating the government from the Church, as well as the country’s Election Code forbidding religious organizations from campaigning, the ruling party did use some religious imagery to appeal to their voters, and various clergymen were seen attending its events.

Finally, the mission observed the blurring of the lines between the Georgian government and the ruling Georgian Dream party, especially in the instances when the city mayors campaigned for the candidates. Overall, the final report by the OSCE concluded that to improve the overall conduct of the elections, Georgia must revise the legal framework of the elections, investigate the alleged voters’ and staff intimidation, clarify the process of vote recount, review the regulations regarding the free on-air time and reconsider the overall composition of the election administration to ensure that it is impartial at all times.

The US Embassy to Georgia welcomed the final report of the OSCE and released its statement in which it claimed that the report further highlighted the need for democratic reforms and urged the Parliament to “continue a deliberate and inclusive reform”:

“The report underscores the continued need for important reforms, particularly in the areas of campaign finance, electoral administration compositions, and dispute resolution. The United States shares these concerns and urges Parliament to continue a deliberative and inclusive reform process that addresses these longstanding ODIHR recommendations. These important reforms will strengthen political pluralism and democracy, and help Georgia achieve its goals for increased Euro-Atlantic integration”, the statement reads.