Joseph Daul, President of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest European-level political party of the center-right, issued a statement on November 26, expressing his political group’s support for presidential candidate Grigol Vashadze of the United Opposition, a coalition led by the United National Movement (UNM).
“I would like to express our strong support to Grigol Vashadze, UNM candidate for the presidential elections, experienced politician and diplomat, a trusted partner, who acts in the interests of Georgian people,” Daul said in his statement, thanking the European Georgia for following the EPP-facilitated agreement, and endorsing the candidacy of Vashadze.
“The EPP closely followed the first round of Georgia’s presidential elections. In spite of the positive indications, the first round of was unfortunately marred by violations, violence and the misuse of administrative resources,” the EPP President also noted, adding that the political group was “deeply concerned” by government officials’ recent attacks on CSOs.
“A number of alarming incidents have raised serious concern in the international community, undermining whether the elections can be classified as free and fair. This includes accusations of printing fake ID cards by a government agency; a debt write-off scheme which can enable vote-bribing; the lack of transparency in selecting the election date, which, by holding the vote on a weekday for the first time, makes it more difficult for the diaspora to vote,” he added.
Joseph Daul then expressed his hope that voters will be “free to cast their ballots peacefully.” “Violence, intimidation, abuse and fraud have no place in a democratic election. The second round of these elections is a test for the rule of law and democracy. The legitimacy of the vote’s outcome is at stake,” he stressed.
“Georgia should continue along its trajectory as a success story and a role model for the region,” the EPP President also noted.