OSCE/ODIHR: Georgian municipal elections ‘generally well-administered’

  • OSCE/ODIHR has released its preliminary findings on the October 2 municipal elections in Georgia.

Agenda.ge, 3 Oct 2021 - 18:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

The OSCE/ODIHR mission, which has monitored the October 2 municipal elections in Georgia, says that the elections ‘were generally well-administered but held against the backdrop of a protracted political crisis and characterised by hardened polarisation.’ 

In its  preliminary findings released earlier today, OSCE/ODIHR says that contestants were able ‘to campaign freely in a competitive environment’ that was, however, ‘marred by wide-spread and consistent allegations of intimidation, vote-buying, pressure on candidates and voters, and an unlevel playing field.’ 

The report says that the election day was ‘generally calm and orderly’, with some isolated violent incidents. 

Election day proceeded in an orderly and transparent manner, despite some procedural issues, particularly during counting, however, the pervasive misuse of citizen observers as party representatives, at times interfering with the process, and groups of individuals potentially influencing voters outside some polling stations were of concern,” said the report. 

It stated that the election administration managed the technical aspects of the process efficiently and complied with legal deadlines, amid adjustments made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The  CEC sessions were open to stakeholders, and also streamed live for the first time, contributing to transparency,” said the report. 

OSCE/ODIHR believes that the legal framework in Georgia  is ‘generally conducive to democratic elections’ and preparations for the elections were ‘transparent and professionally managed’. 

The report stated that the diverse media landscape was ‘highly polarised and provided little analytical reporting and selective coverage, limiting the voters’ ability to make an informed choice, and cases of intimidation and violence against journalists were of concern. 

It noted that ‘significant imbalance in resources, insufficient oversight of campaign finances and an undue advantage of incumbency’ further benefited the ruling party. 

The underrepresentation of women in the campaign demonstrates a need for greater commitment to ensure adequate representation in politics,” OSCE/ODIHR said. 

It stated that ethnic minority issues did not feature heavily in the election campaign, and national minorities remained underrepresented compared to their population size.