On July 7, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) released its first interim report on the upcoming October parliamentary polls. The report, covering a period from June 1 through July 4, highlights several violations, among others “the signs of vote-buying” and “charity for political purposes.”
ISFED noted it had identified 19 cases of possible vote-buying, two cases of the possible use of administrative resources, one case of exerting pressure on ISFED observer, two cases of interfering in political activities, and one case of political pressure/intimidation.
The CSO said that although local government bodies had not engaged in political agitation while distributing social aid, the involvement of the ruling Georgian Dream party’s majoritarian MPs in the process effaced the boundary between the state and the governing party. The watchdog said majoritarian MPs’ involvement in the process contains the signs of vote-buying – an action prohibited by article 252 of the Law of Georgia on Political Associations of Citizens.
ISFED also identified the signs of vote-buying in the campaign carried out by Lelo for Georgia party and its affiliated organization “Movement for the Future,” namely granting of scholarships to students and rendering social aid to residents of Gori and Telavi, towns in eastern Georgia.
The civil society organization also spoke of the signs of agitation in favor of Georgian Dream chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili, observed on the pages of a state-funded newspaper “Our Village.”
The report also noted that “by postponing the mandatory exams for practicing teachers until further notice in autumn, the Ministry of Education, Science, Sport, and Culture tries to win the hearts of the teacher community.”
ISFED calls on:
The government and political parties:
- Not to exert pressure on election observers and not to hamper their activities;
- Not to outreach with the voters in a manner that contains the signs of vote-buying;
- To refrain from participating in the events funded from the state and/or local budgets;
- That majoritarian MPs should remain anonymous when carrying out charitable activities and donate money to those foundations that work in this direction;
- Political parties should refrain from mobilizing their supporters to counter the campaign meetings of their opponents.
Local self-government bodies:
- To observe the principle of good faith when using the state and local budgets for providing aid so that the population does not think that the ruling party is against this aid.
Charity organizations and organizers of humanitarian events:
- Not to violate the restrictions imposed by the election code and not to hold such events together with political parties and their representatives.