A preliminary post-election statement of four international observation missions, critical of a set of specific elements of the election process, did not question the overall integrity of the October 31 elections.
“Elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected. Nevertheless, pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring of the line between the ruling party and the state reduced public confidence in some aspects of the process,” highlighted the statement released on November 1.
The joint statement is the result of a common endeavor involving the ODIHR LEOM, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
“The technical aspects of the elections were managed efficiently,” however, “dominance of the ruling party in the election commissions negatively affected the perception of their impartiality and independence, especially at the lower levels,” underscored the preliminary statement.
Observers also listed alleged pressure on voters, intimidating atmosphere outside polling stations, issues with the campaign financing, unequal distribution of registered voters amongst newly redrawn 30 majoritarian constituencies and unaddressed ODIHR and CoE recommendations as the areas of improvement.
Fundamental freedoms respected in #Georgia parliamentary elections, but confidence reduced by allegations of pressure and blurring of line between party & state, international observers say. Read our press release ➡️ https://t.co/BnGeQWFak3. pic.twitter.com/JlCnYHQAjy
— OSCE/ODIHR (@osce_odihr) November 1, 2020
“We noted the presence of party coordinators and activists outside many polling stations had an intimidating character,” said ODIHR LEOM head Jillian Stirk, adding that the competitive nature of yesterday’s elections was “unfortunately, undermined by the pervasive allegations of the intimidations of voters.”
At a joint press conference, Elona Gjebrea Hoxha, leader of the short-term OSCE PA election mission, asserted that “pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring the line between the ruling party and state reduced public confidence in some aspects of the process.”
Osman Askin Bak, head of the NATO PA delegation, reiterated that the fundamental freedoms were generally upheld and most procedures were followed but noted that the elections were “far from flawless.”
Tiny Kox of the PACE underlined issues with campaign financing, asserting that Georgia lacks clear rules on the subject, negatively affecting the elections process. “So much money spent on elections in a rather poor country is not a good signal for your citizens,” he added.