On September 8, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, released its third interim report on the October parliamentary elections. According to the report, signs of the use of administrative resources and possible attempts of vote-buying remain as key challenges of the pre-election environment.
In the document, covering a period from August 4 to September 5, as well as some developments that began before August 4, the watchdog identified 17 cases of supposed vote-buying; 2 projects initiated by the government to possibly win the public over during the election period; 3 supposedly politically motivated dismissals; 4 cases of possible political pressure; one case of supposed politically motivated physical abuse; 18 possible cases of the use of administrative resources; 6 cases of the Church interfering in the pre-election campaign; 2 cases of possible obstruction of media activities. Political posters were also damaged in 13 municipalities.
According to the CSO, the possible attempts at vote-buying were carried out by the ruling party Georgian Dream, the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots, Free Georgia and the United National Movement.
The watchdog assesses the use of administrative resources as one of the key issues. According to the report, the fact that majoritarian MP candidates from the Georgian Dream are involved in various events funded by the state or local budget indicates the possible use of administrative resources, blurring the line between the state and the ruling party. ISFED is concerned with various social programs initiated during the recent period, which may be aimed at winning new supporters for the Georgian Dream.
The watchdog is also concerned with high-ranking members of the Orthodox clergy attending various events organized by the GD, possibly “establishing a perception that the Church supports Georgian Dream.”
The report also notes that a member of Lelo was physically abused, potentially on political grounds. “Alleged cases of political pressure and intimidation were mostly on the supporters of opposition parties, but there was also one allegation by a ruling party’s supporter against the United National Movement,” the watchdog notes.
ISFED states that the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots and ultranationalist, nativist Georgian March are using hate speech in their election campaigns and that it had already addressed the Central Election Commission regarding Patriots’ anti-Turkish campaign clips.
- ISFED: Alliance of Patriots Spread Anti-Turkish Campaign Clips
- ISFED Releases Second Interim Report on Pre-Election Environment
- ISFED Releases First Interim Report on Pre-Election Environment