ELECTIONS ARE ON —- HOLD THEM AND THEY’LL COME? — ALLIANCE OF FAUX PAS — STUDENTS ENROLL
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T Needs Assessment Mission from the OSCE/ODIHR, an international watchdog, published a full report on Georgia’s pre-election environment. Having spoken with officials, political parties, and civil society, the mission pointed to the room for improvement in the composition of election commissions, suggested tackling possible voter intimidation, and urged campaign finance transparency. Particularly highlighted were the risks of “potential vote-buying” during the COVID-19 response. Observers are also worried about dipping confidence in the key agencies who are to keep the elections on the straight and narrow: the Central Election Commission, the State Audit Office, and the judiciary. ODIHR plans to deploy 350 short-term and 28 long-term observers for the elections, but perhaps not all the usual watchdogs would turn up? At least Irakli Kobakhidze (he’s back!) suggested the U.S. party watchdogs – NDI and IRI – and the European Parliament might not be sending their observers. He cryptically alluded to pandemic restrictions and deflected the question on whether the ruling party was happy to see the back of NDI and IRI. Kobakhidze denied any criticism towards these watchdogs (his boss’ statements clearly indicate the opposite) saying it’s their local partners the Georgian Dream does not like – Saakashvili’s cronies all of them, apparently.
OFF THE BLOCKS President Salome Zurabishvili used her symbolic powers and slated the national and Adjara Supreme Council elections for October 31, thereby activating the rule-book for the campaign.
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…AND INTO THE DUMPS The Alliance of Patriots has been fresh off the blocks making those valuable column inches by stirring controversy in Abkhazia. Over the weekend, their billboard showed up in Adjara, apparently depicting the region as being occupied by Turkey. The general outrage followed, and another party, Lelo took the publicity relay by “tearing that billboard down”. The Patriots’ Dame du Fer Irma Inashvili tried to hilariously push the blame for the billboard on the
Beelzebub Saakashvili-Bokeria conspiracy. Yet, the news outlet affiliated with the Patriots’ Alliance has been spending thousands on Facebook ads peddling precisely the same message as the ill-fated billboard. Time will only show whether Mrs. Inashvili’s hat will proverbially catch fire…
…AND NOW HIS WATCH HAS ENDED Many cringed when Sergi Gvarjaladze, once famed TV anchor and Georgia’s electronic music pioneer has accepted the somewhat ill-defined office of the “Nightlife Mayor” of Tbilisi. The capital’s mayoral press center assured us, that he has been the sword in the darkness; the watcher on the walls; the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the city ravers, the shield that guarded the nightclubs. No more. As the Georgian economy continues to plummet (however, slightly slower than a month before) and now that the real GDP has shrunk by 5.8% in the first seven months of 2020, the night is once again cold and full of terrors.
A SPARK OF HAPPINESS Georgia’s 29 614 graduates heard the happy news today – they will be continuing studies in the higher education institutions, having passed the unified exams. 6550 of them have excelled and will have their tuition taken over by the state in whole (that is the case of some thousand top-ranking students) or in part. We hope their studies would be a breeze for these young women and men, after having braved the stifling heat of the examination rooms (no air-conditioning due to Covid-19 rules).
That’s full lid for today!