NDI Concludes First Pre-Election Assessment Mission

On February 25, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) released an assessment of its first pre-election mission to Georgia, which took place on February 19-25.

According to NDI, one of the goals of the mission was to “accurately and impartially assess the broader political environment within which the elections will take place.” Along with some “positive elements” the report says there are “a series of negative dynamics that, if not addressed, threaten electoral integrity.”

The organization offers practical recommendations to promote more inclusive, transparent and accountable elections.

NDI stresses the importance of Georgia’s EU candidate status, also of the nine conditions the country should meet to begin EU accession negotiations; In light of this, NDI notes that the scrutiny of Georgia’s elections by EU member states, as well as the U.S and others, “will be higher than ever before.”

Positive Signs

Among the positive signs, the NDI highlights “broad public support for democracy, human rights and the rule of law; sustained positive public impression of the police as well as a significant and maintained improvement in public perceptions of petty corruption; efforts to improve transparency by resuming the publication of government decrees; and innovations to improve the efficiency of election day processes.”

In particular, NDI highlights the positive steps taken by the Central Election Commission (CEC), including its use of election day technology to increase efficiency and its engagement with stakeholders to maximize the number of registered voters per polling station.

NDI also welcomes the intention of all political parties to focus on issue-based campaigning. It also praises Georgia’s civil society and the existence of media with a wide range of opinions.


However, the NDI also points to the challenges, including “polarization, verbal attacks on civil society (including citizen observers), fears about the possible misuse of administrative resources for political advantage, and concerns around the implementation of new electoral technologies.”

In particular, NDI expresses concern about the “unprecedented level of personality-driven political polarization by political parties and their supporters,” adding that all of this leads to “intolerance of alternative perspectives.” NDI notes that political actors need some self-reflection in order to articulate a vision for the future and move away from focusing on past grievances.

In addition, the organization highlights verbal attacks on civil society, including non-partisan civic watchdog organizations, stressing that these attacks are “particularly worrying”. It adds that the situation extends to gender-based attacks on women politicians and civic leaders, undermining women’s participation in political and public life. The NDI also notes the need to ensure that minority groups are better informed about all aspects of the elections.

The NDI identifies potential risks, including concerns that the government might misuse administrative resources for electoral purposes. It emphasizes that this concern is stemmed from communication gaps and transparency issues, particularly regarding past allegations involving the Prosecutor’s Office and the uncertainties about the role of the State Security Service in the elections.

Among the problems, the NDI also points to the partisan editorial approaches of the media, saying that they limit the space for genuine cross-party discussion; it also points to the lack of public trust in CEC, saying it is undermined by a lack of political consensus over its composition. Fears about the uncertainty of using the new technologies on election day are also highlighted in the assessment report. In addition, the NDI notes that the five percent threshold for representation in Parliament and changes that prohibit the party blocs “risk reducing pluralism and making the resulting parliament less representative of Georgian society.”

Priority Actions

NDI highlights the specific actions that the country needs to take to improve the electoral situation.

Counter polarization: NDI urges all election stakeholders to respect each other’s views, adding that “hostile rhetoric and attempts to discredit the work of citizen observers should cease.”

Reject physical violence: All election stakeholders, including security forces, are urged to reject physical violence and verbal intimidation in order to ensure the free participation of all Georgians in the elections.

Recognition of citizen observers: NDI emphasized that it is critical for all stakeholders to publicly recognize that citizen observers play an integral role in a credible electoral process and that observation reports are offered to promote electoral integrity.

Refrain from hate speech: All political parties, as well as government officials and the media, are urged to refrain from hate speech against journalists and marginalized groups, as well as misogynistic attacks on women politicians and civil society activists.

Increase MIA transparency: NDI notes that the Ministry of Interior should increase transparency about its role in the pre-election period and on election day to address uncertainties about its role and build confidence in the secrecy of the ballot.

Open media: NDI urges public and private media to include parties from across the political spectrum; in turn, NDI urges party representatives to agree to appear on both like-minded and divergent media.

Ensure the secrecy of the vote: NDI calls on the CEC to “redouble its efforts” to dispel all unsubstantiated rumors about the secrecy of the vote. It also calls on all political parties and civil society organizations to work to assure the public that their votes will be secret.

Conduct Nationwide Test of New Technologies: NDI says the CEC should consider conducting a nationwide test of the use of the new technologies that mirrors conditions on election day. According to NDI, this will further enhance public confidence.

Ensure the participation of marginalized groups: NDI stresses that the full participation of marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities, should be ensured by the CEC.

Ensure high level of access to voting abroad: NDI calls on the CEC and the Georgian MFA to provide “greater transparency on the process for determining the location of polling stations outside of Georgia”. It also says that the CEC and the MFA should facilitate access to voting for Georgian citizens abroad “to the degree possible.”

During its visit to Georgia, the NDI Pre-Election Assessment Mission met with Georgian officials, representatives of the CEC, leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, local civil society organizations, citizen observation organizations, the media, and diplomatic missions in Georgia.

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


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