ISFED Releases Second Interim Report on Pre-Election Environment

 The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, released today its second interim report on the upcoming October 2 local polls. The report, covering a period from August 31 through September 21, highlights several possible violations, including violence, alleged cases of political pressure and dismissals.

The watchdog said it identified 2 cases of violence; 20 instances of alleged political pressure or threats; 5 cases of alleged vote-buying; 12 instances of participation of unauthorized persons in the election campaign and 1 instance of participation by the incumbent official; 4 possible dismissals on political grounds; 5 alleged facts of politicization of educational institutions; 3 alleged cases of the use of administrative resources and damaging of agitation materials throughout the country. 

The report said that “as in previous elections, the nature of the violations observed during the pre-election period is getting worse,” adding ISFED monitors have taken note of attacks against opposition supporters, including the Dmanisi stabbings.  

ISFED also reported “illegal interference with journalistic activities.” It said that an operator of the government-critical TV Pirveli channel was “deliberately” hit by a car on September 7 in Tbilisi, while a Mtavari Arkhi TV crew was allegedly attacked at the Georgian Dream Kareli office on September 15.

ISFED reports that the pre-election campaign was also “significantly shaken” by the leaking of alleged State Security Service leaked files. It also took note of the TV Pirveli September 11 report on the SSG allegedly collecting information about the political views of persons employed in educational institutions and the party activities of their family members, which supposedly lead to dismissals in several cases.

The watchdog said it has also appealed to the Central Election Commission and the Audit Office to investigate and respond to the September 17 distribution of the banners depicting media personalities and opposition politicians on a bloody backdrop.

The watchdog asserted that dismissals, pressure and threats on political grounds, including against opposition candidates, are an ongoing tendency. It also took note of the participation of unauthorized in the election campaign, “which is usually in favor of the ruling Georgian Dream party.” 

As of September 21, ISFED has filed 27 complaints with election commissions and other relevant agencies to address the alleged violations, and also lodged 19 lawsuits in courts, over the individuals who have allegedly been dismissed over political grounds.

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