"Voters deserve higher standards" - US and EU embassies on elections in Georgia
Georgian voters deserve higher standard of fairness – this is the assessment of elections in Georgia given by the US Embassy in Georgia. The Delegation of the European Union expressed concern about the polarization in the political and electoral environment.
The US embassy said in a statement that voters were able to vote on October 2 in a largely peaceful environment, although the electoral process goes beyond the election day.
“The United States shares the OSCE / ODIHR’s first assessment that the elections were technically well-run, but that the [electoral] environment was harmed by widespread complaints of intimidation, voter bribery, pressure on candidates and voters, and inappropriate use of civilian observers as representatives of parties, unequal conditions, including during the pre-election period. Although voters had the opportunity to vote on October 2 in a generally peaceful environment, the electoral process goes beyond the Election Day”, the statement said.
The statement also says that there have been reports of the use of administrative resources, which casts doubt on the fairness of the elections. In their opinion, such facts do not correspond to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic course.
“The blurred line between state and party resources is deeply troubling. Significant reports of illegal use of administrative resources cast doubt on the overall fairness of the elections. Pressure on teachers, law enforcement officials and the public sector in many towns and villages reportedly prevented them from expressing their free choice on election day. Such violations often took place in the elections in Georgia, which is completely incompatible with Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. There is a risk that these and other recurring electoral irregularities will become inevitable. Voters in Georgia deserve a higher standard of fairness in the electoral process”.
The embassy also regrets that the tense political situation is becoming more polarized and that parties are more focused on personal attacks than on electorate priorities.
As far as the EU Delegation is concerned, the Delegation stated that the elections were generally well organized, albeit marked by increased polarization.
“The mission concluded that the elections went well overall, albeit with increasing polarization. Constituents were able to campaign freely and in a competitive environment, and this election day was held in an orderly and transparent manner. It also highlighted significant shortcomings, in particular widespread and consistent allegations of intimidation, voter bribery and pressure on candidates and voters and unequal election environment. In addition, a significant imbalance between resources, inadequate monitoring of campaign funding, and the advantage of being in power played in favor of the ruling party. The underrepresentation of women in the election campaign demonstrates the need for greater commitment to adequate political representation”, the statement said.
The EU stresses that the current polarization is having a negative impact on democracy and that the responsibility for resolving this issue lies with all parties.
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On October 2, 2021, elections to local self-government bodies were held in Georgia. 64 mayors and 2,044 deputies of local councils – “Sakrebulo” were elected in the elections.
According to the results published by the Central Election Commission of Georgia, the ruling Georgian Dream party received 46.69% of the vote, and the main opposition party, United National Movement, 30.7%. However, in almost all large cities – Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti and Zugdidi, mayors will be determined in the second round, where candidates from the ruling party and the National Movement entered.
This is the eighth self-government elections in independent Georgia.
The Georgian opposition refer to these elections as a referendum on confidence in the authorities, counting on its results to call early parliamentary elections.