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CSOs: 2020 Elections “Least Democratic, Free” Under GD

In a statement from November 4, 25 Georgian CSOs say that 2020 parliamentary elections were “least democratic and free among the elections held under the Georgian Dream rule.”

Despite taking “a step forward” by switching to a more proportional system, the statement says that government could not ensure to conduct 2020 polls “in accordance with democratic standards.”

The signatories, including International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), and Transparency International (TI) Georgia – key election watchdogs of the country, demand vote recount in the precincts with detected imbalances in the summary protocols, as well as “lawful and impartial” review of the filed complaints.

According to the statement, political parties were able to lead the campaign “without significant restrictions,” however, cases of violent confrontations, pressure and intimidation against voters and journalists during the campaign, “usually were not promptly investigated.” The campaign, watchdogs note, has also been marked by “unprecedented use of administrative resources, blurring the lines between the state and the [ruling] party.”

CSOs further accuse the ruling party of possibly launching the “Cartographers’ Case” investigations for “manipulating patriotic sentiments” of people, and later detaining two “presumably innocent persons.”

The statement goes on listing election-day violations, including verbal and physical confrontations, attacks and interruptions against journalists and observers, numerous cases of breach of secrecy and vote-buying, and hostile attitudes on part of members of Precinct Election Commissions (PEC) and the political parties, including the opposition. Up to 3,000 observers deployed by 5 watchdogs have filed over 500 complaints at various polling stations, CSOs say.

As for the vote counting, watchdogs note problems such as delayed publishing of preliminary results by the Central Election Commission (CEC), calling it a worsened practice over the last 8 years. The questions raised due to the delay were exacerbated by identified imbalances in summary protocols of 8% of PECs, the statement adds.

The low degree of democracy in 2020 parliamentary polls will be damaging to stable development and the international reputation of the country, CSOs conclude.

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