The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has published its first interim report, and finds that the tone of the election campaign in Georgia to be confrontational.
“The tone of the campaign is confrontational, with both the UNM and the GD accusing the other of exacerbating the confrontational tone of the electoral process. A number of incidents such as skirmishes between campaign staff, damage to party offices and campaign materials have been reported to the OSCE/ODIHR EOM and reported in the media. Although many investigations have been opened, several opposition parties expressed a deep mistrust in law enforcement institutions and the State Security Service. The OSCE/ODIHR EOM has received a number of allegations regarding the misuse of administrative resource, pressure of public employees, including requirements to attend campaign events and intimidation of campaign staff.” - says the report
The report also touched the role of media in the pre-election environment saying that “The primary source of information is television. Print media has limited circulation, while the role of online media is growing. While presenting a diversity of views, media outlets, especially broadcast media, are often perceived as polarized along political lines.”
The ODIHR also underlined the importance of the integration of ethnic minorities highlighting the fact that all election materials are translated in Azeri and Armenian, Georgia’s two main minority languages.
“The Election Code contains provisions for the translation of VLs, ballots, protocols, and other election materials in minority languages, and the CEC intends to provide voter education and information materials in Azeri and Armenian, including on the GPB. Further, the CEC operates a tri-lingual hotline in Georgian, Azeri and Armenian languages and provides information in the Abkhaz language on its website. The CEC held a small grants competition, awarding funds to eight NGOs to implement projects aimed to increase the participation of national minorities in the electoral process.” - says the report
The report also explained the general procedures and system of Georgian elections. The ODIHR launched its observation mission on August 30 and it’s lead by French career diplomat, Alexandre Keltchewsky. The core team of the mission includes 12 experts from nine different countries and there are 26 long-term observers. Members of the mission were selected from 21 OSCE member countries.