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International Reactions to Georgia’s October 31 General Election

On October 31, almost 2 million Georgians cast their votes to elect the tenth convocation of their 150-member parliament, composed of 120 MPs elected through proportional vote and 30 lawmakers elected through single-mandate constituencies.

With all 3,847 precincts counted, preliminary results show the ruling Georgian Dream in the lead with 48.15% (926,959 votes), followed by the United National Movement with 27.14% (522,463 votes), European Georgia – 3.78% (72,752), Lelo for Georgia 3.15%, Strategy Aghmashenebeli – 3.15% , Alliance of Patriots – 3.14%, Girchi – 2.89%, Elisashvili – the Citizens – 1.33%, Labor Party – 1%. Ruling GD party is set to win 14 of of 30 majoritarian races, while 16 constituencies will go into runoffs. The opposition parties reject election results and announce large-scale protests.

The international observers voiced criticisms over a set of elements of the election process, without questioning the integrity of the overall process.

Below are the reactions of international partners to Georgia’s hotly-contested vote: 

U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said in a statement, that the “efforts to corrupt the electoral process through voter intimidation, vote-buying, interfering with ballot secrecy, blurring of the party and official activities, and violence against election observers and journalists, while not sufficient to invalidate the results, continue to mar Georgia’s electoral process and are unacceptable.”

The Embassy asked Georgia’s citizens to be patient and to allow the process to be conducted in a calm, peaceful and respectful manner.

The European Union, External Action Service

The External Action Service of the European Union said on Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary vote, that the EU “will remain very attentive to developments during the remainder of the electoral period and in particular on the day of the second round.”

The statement seconded preliminary conclusions of international observers, adding that “ensuring the highest democratic standards throughout the entire process, including during the second round, remains key, as well as a fair, transparent and rigorous handling of all complaints and appeals.”

The United Kingdom, Minister Wendy Morton

British Minister for European Neighborhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton, said the UK agrees with international observers’ preliminary conclusions that the elections were competitive and freedoms were respected, albeit amid allegations of pressure on voters. “We now call for the second round of voting to be carried out in a fair, legal way, fitting of Georgia’s outward-looking global aspirations,” she added.

Sweden, Foreign Minister Ann Linde

Foreign Ministry of Lithuania

Foreign Ministry of Lithuania released a statement, noting that October 31 elections were “competitive, and, overall fundamental freedoms were respected, democratic standards were met, although there were some irregularities and incidents, which we call to investigate.” Lithuanian Foreign Ministry called on Georgian political parties and CEC to take into account the international observers’ remarks in the run-up to the second round of the elections, to make sure that “election and future results would not cast any doubts.”

Foreign Ministry of Latvia

Foreign Ministry of Poland

Foreign Ministry of Poland released a statement seconding international observers’ preliminary conclusions, that the elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms and international standards were respected.

However, the statement drew attention to “worrying reports” on irregularities and violations, “allegedly exceeding in numbers those registered during 2016 elections.” Foreign Ministry of Poland called on Georgian authorities to investigate all the complaints with “due scrutiny and with proper respect to institutional process, as well as according to prevailing procedures.” “That would enhance transparency and trust in electoral process, especially before the second round scheduled on November 21st,” the statement reads.

Foreign Ministry of Turkey

Turkish Foreign Ministry released a brief statement, wishing the parliamentary elections to be “auspicious for friendly Georgia,” adding that they were pleased to see the elections were conducted in “a peaceful and tranquil manner across the country.”

Leading MEPs on Georgia Call for “Calm”

Leading MEPs on EU-Georgia relations, including David McAllister (EPP, Germany), Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Marina Kaljurand (S&D, Estonia), Chair of the EP’s delegation for relations with the South Caucasus; Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), The EP’s standing rapporteur on Georgia; and Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), EP’s lead member for democracy support activities in Georgia, released statement on October 31 general election and called for calm ahead of runoffs:

“We take note that these elections were found to be competitive and freedoms were respected overall, despite deplorable cases of pressure on voters and blurring of the line between the ruling party and the State throughout the campaign and on election day. Candidates were able to campaign freely, giving voters a genuine choice between a variety of platforms. The level of interest and engagement on the part of civil society actors also constitutes a positive feature of these elections. The issue of campaign financing needs to be further addressed in line with long-standing OSCE/ODIHR recommendations,” stated the MEPs.

“We appreciate that pragmatic solutions were found to allow quarantined and self-isolated citizens to cast their ballots in special polling stations, which was a fair compromise between democratic and public health requirements,” the MEPs went on, and also added that they “very much deplore that citizens in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia were once again deprived of their right to vote.”

“Today, following the first round and ahead of the second round, we call for calm. All possible appeals and complaints, substantiated with necessary details and some element of proof, should be handled in a fair, transparent and rigorous manner,” the Members of the European Parliament highlighted.

The Party of European Socialists

The Party of European Socialists (PES), of which the ruling Georgian Dream party is an observer member, released a statement asserting that “the high turnout in Georgian election shows enhanced democracy.” PES shared the international observers’ preliminary conclusions that the October 31 parliamentary elections were “competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected.”

“Georgia held a highly competitive elections in such difficult times. The election results so far show that the people of Georgia have chosen to continue their Euro-Atlantic path. The election law reforms adopted in advance of this election made the election process more inclusive and more transparent. We hope that Georgia will continue on this direction after the second round of the election,” PES President Sergei Stanishev stated.

MEP Viola von Cramon (European Free Alliance)

MEP Cramon said in a separate comment that while the parliamentary elections were competitive and generally free, it is “regrettable to see cases of pressuring voters,” adding that “unequal access to administrative & particularly financial resources undermines democracy.”

More to follow

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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