International observers evaluate Georgian presidential election runoff

Agenda.ge, 29 Nov 2018 - 18:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

OSCE/ODIHR has stated in its preliminary assessments that the second round of Georgian presidential election was competitive and candidates were able to campaign freely. However, one side enjoyed an undue advantage and the negative character of the campaign on both sides undermined the process.

The statement says that the campaign for the 28 November vote was marred by harsh rhetoric and isolated incidents of violence, as well as by an increase in the misuse of state resources, further blurring the separation of party and state.

Private media continued to demonstrate sharp polarization and bias in coverage, while the public broadcaster did not ensure editorial independence and impartiality,” the observers said.

Margareta Cederfelt, Head of the delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said: “In this run-off election the Georgian people once again expressed their commitment to democracy by actively participating in the electoral process. Regrettably, the increased use of harsh rhetoric in the campaign between the two rounds contributed to a rise in tension in the electoral environment.”

 Georgia has a good international standing as a democracy, and the corresponding commitment shown by citizens and voters was visible and impressive. The quality of the election was undermined, however, by unnecessarily sharp confrontation, negative campaigning and personal insults by some members of the political class, who did this rather than dealing with issues really important for Georgia, such as the rule of law and economic inequality,” said Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission. “These negative practices were even worse than in the lead up to the first round.”

 

NDI election report said that the election day was largely orderly but the period ahead of the runoff was divisive and marked by violence and intimidation.

 

Democratic governance is Georgia’s most precious asset,” said the delegation. “It has set the country apart from its authoritarian neighbors and made possible the prospects for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Squandering this asset would have immeasurable costs. It will be critical that Georgia not allow the conduct of this election campaign to define the country’s political life going forward.”

 

Election day proceeded in a largely orderly and calm manner, with election officials in the majority of stations performing their duties in a transparent manner, according to domestic observation efforts. Georgian voters expressed their will, with a higher turnout, 56.23 percent, than recent elections.

There were sporadic, but serious, incidents of multiple voting and manipulation of the count, both directly observed by NDI monitors. The election administration should thoroughly investigate the critical violations during voting and the count,” reads the report.

NDI provided its recommendations regarding the elections.  

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