TBILISI, DFWatch--Sunday night, police in Georgia detained two members of a newly formed opposition party led by the opera singer Paata Burchuladze. The two members of State for People were detained outside the party office in Temka, a northern district
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Free Democrats, a party which withdrew from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition in 2014, on Saturday named its candidates for majoritarian MPs in the October 8 parliamentary election. The nominees were selected on Saturday
TBILISI, DFWatch--The ruling Georgian Dream coalition won the by-local election in Gardabani on Thursday. The election was necessary to find a replacement for Garsevan Nioradze, the recently deceased gamgebeli or head of municipality of Gardabani,
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Dream coalition looks likely to gain one seat in parliament after the by-elections yesterday. The coalition’s candidates were leading in both Sagarejo and Martvili, according to preliminary results (http://results.cec.gov.ge/).
TBILISI, DFWatch--By-elections for parliament and local elections went ahead in Georgia on Saturday with some minor irregularities. Two seats in parliament are up for election in Martvili and Sagarejo while there are local elections in Dmanisi, Vani, Khobi and Sagarejo.
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Dream coalition won the second round of the local election in every city and municipality, according to preliminary results from Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC). Davit Narmania, Georgian Dream candidate for Tbilisi mayor,
TBILISI, DFWatch--The government coalition’s candidate for Tbilisi mayor will get 72.7 percent of votes, according to preliminary results from the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Georgia. Presenting the results Sunday night, CEC head Tamar Zhvania
TBILISI, DFWatch--Today, Georgia holds the second round of the local election in eight cities and 13 municipalities. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), there are 1,715,514 voters for the second round, who will vote in 28 electoral districts comprising
TBILISI, DFWatch--One week before the run-off election for Tbilisi mayor, candidates are showering the electorate with promises, though the major issue in the campaign, whether to have direct debates between candidates, is still undecided. The government
TBILISI, DFWatch--The second round of Georgia’s local election will be held on next Saturday, July 12, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC). CEC made its decision after a session which ended late Thursday night. The first round of the local
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia conducted repeat elections at fourteen precincts on Sunday. The government coalition won in eight precincts, while the National Movement won at two precincts. Other parties’ candidates and independents won in the rest of the precincts.
TBILISI, DFWatch--Repeat elections will be held June 29 at seven precincts because results there were canceled, Georgia's Central Election Commission (CEC) announced. Among the precincts which will hold another first round in the local elections two are in Marneuli,
TBILISI, DFWatch--Election results at two Georgian precincts were canceled Tuesday, as a result of a controversial video published by the National Movement party, which lost the local election in that area. The video is made by the organization Free Zone, which
TBILISI, DFWatch--The government coalition had a strong showing in the local election, though not as strong as in the previous two national elections. In the capital Tbilisi, the coalition’s candidate for mayor, Davit Narmania, received 46.12 percent,
TBILISI, DFWatch--Both the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and the National Movement celebrated the results of exit polls from Sunday’s local election. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili congratulated candidate for Tbilisi mayor Davit Narmania on his victory,
TBILISI, DFWatch--A government spokesperson in Georgia defended himself Sunday against criticism from an opposition politician for standing in front of a political banner during a press conference on election day. Energy Minister and Vice Prime Minister Kakhi Kaladze
TBILISI, DFWatch--Sunday's election in Georgia marks a significant expansion of local democracy in the country. Voters are electing twelve new mayors, 59 gamgebelis, or heads of municipalities, and about 2,500 members of 71 local councils. 16,190 registered
TBILISI, DFWatch-Voting went smoothly Sunday in Georgia’s local election. 517,123 people had voted by noon, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC). This is 16 percent of registered voters. ISFED said 98.7% of precincts were ready to receive voters
TBILISI, DFWatch--There will be 32 international and 59 Georgian organizations observing the local election on Sunday, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC). The CEC said the number of representatives of Georgian organizations
TBILISI, DFWatch--A candidate for Georgia’s governing coalition in a town south of the capital has announced that he is withdrawing from tomorrow’s local election. The coalition earlier said he would withdraw. Merab Topchishvili was Georgian Dream’s candidate
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream coalition on Thursday withdrew its candidate for gamgebeli in Marneuli in Sunday’s local election, explaining that it was necessary in order to avoid making it into a purely ethnic vote. The National Movement is running with an
TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party is under investigation for pretending to be victim of political persecution. Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani has asked the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate whether the National Movement
TBILISI, DFWatch--The State Audit Office wants to fine the political parties Alliance of Georgia’s Patriots, Conservative Party and Georgia’s Way. The body which monitors the financial activity of political parties claims that Alliance of Georgia’s Patriots didn’t declare donations
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Tuesday restored a National Movement candidate’s right to run in the June 15 local election. Akmamed Imamkuliev was launched as the UNM’s candidate for gamgebeli in Marneuli, a town in southern Georgia. But June 5,
TBILISI, DFWatch--Suspended Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava Thursday broke into a district election commission office in Marneuli and swore at the local official in charge. It’s the latest in a series of incidents involving the party, as Georgia gets closed to the local
TBILISI, DFWatch--A scuffle developed Saturday as supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition demonstrated outside the National Movement’s party office in Rustavi, a city 20 km south of the capital. Mamuka Chikovani, the UNM candidate for Rustavi mayor,
TBILISI, DFWatch--Two groups of Georgian Dream coalition activists clashed during a campaign event Monday in Tskhaltubo, a town in western Georgia. One faction of activists asked the government for help, claiming that the coalition has two headquarters in Tskhaltubo,
TBILISI, DFWatch--48 percent of Georgians would vote for the Georgian Dream coalition if there were local elections tomorrow, a new polls shows. This the second part of a wider survey published by National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Thursday, contains the party
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Central Election Commission has rejected the National Movement’s request to use the number 5 on the ballot-papers in the local elections in June. UNM, which is running alongside the Christian Conservative Party, said in a statement May 5 that
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream coalition on Saturday launched its election campaign and presented candidates for mayors in 12 cities. The main event at Sports Palace in Tbilisi gathered up to 12,000 people and included MPs, government members,
TBILISI, DFWatch--There are 3.49 million registered voters for Georgia’s June 15 local elections. This marks a gradual reduction in the Georgian electorate. In the presidential election in October 2013, 3.54 million people were eligible to vote, while a year before
TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has introduced a 'moratorium' on prosecuting former officials from the National Movement party of Mikheil Saakashvili, out of fear that it may restrict democratic rights. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said
TBILISI, DFWatch--The 2014 local elections in Georgia will be held on June 15. This is decided in a decree by President Giorgi Margvelashvili signed April 10. The decree has been sent to the government for approval and will come into force as soon as it is published
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani wants guidelines for criminal investigations involving people running in the local election in June. Tsulukiani did not explain more specifically what kind of rules it will be beyond calling for 'recommendations'. She said
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has created an interagency commission to handle violations ahead of the local elections, slated for June. The commission will be led by Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani. Other members are the deputy interior minister, deputy foreign
TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili proposes to raise the threshold for winning in the first round of local elections to 50 percent. Gharibashvili, who represents the Georgian Dream coalition, suggests having a 50 percent threshold also in mayoral
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Dream coalition promises that there will not be fraud in the upcoming local elections, as the voters’ list is being checked by use of biometric data, which will prevent names from appearing two or more times. Georgian Dream, both the coalition and the party with the same
TBILISI, DFWatch--In a week the government in Georgia will decide whether to follow recommendations and proposals made by the non-parliamentary opposition and non-governmental organizations about amendments to the Election Code. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili
TBILISI, DFWatch--A biometric election list may not be ready for the upcoming local elections in Georgia, which will be held in June, 2014. Election lists have been subject to disputes for a long time, especially during the National Movement government, when there were claims that
TBILISI, DFWatch--The State Audit Office in Georgia has fined the party led by opposition figure Nino Burjanadze, Democratic Movement, 65 000 lari (USD 36 600) for not declaring its finances in the election campaign. The State Audit Office, previously known as
TBILISI, DFWatch--The local elections in Georgia will be held in June 2014, instead of May, the parliamentary majority says. The last local elections were held on May 30, 2010. Davit Berdzenishvili from the Georgian Dream coalition said on Friday that the local
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the reason he removed Defense Minister Irakli Alasania from his post as vice prime minister was to end speculation in Alasania's party about making him a candidate for president. The prime minister
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has relieved Defense Minister Irakli Alasania of his additional responsibilities as vice prime minister. The press office of the PM says a decree was issued January 21 and that Ivanishvili will explain
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Defense Minister Irakli Alasania says the Georgian Dream coalition has had ‘an awkward discussion’ about selecting a candidate for the presidential election, but he doesn’t consider himself a candidate, as he feels responsibility for the post he
TBILISI, DFWatch -- There were repeat elections at eleven precincts in three regions of Georgia on Sunday. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), voter turnout at the time voting ended was 32.9 percent. The repeat election was conducted peacefully without
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Eleven precincts in three districts in Georgia are holding repeat elections Sunday, because of grave irregularities which led to results of the October 1 parliamentary election being canceled. All eleven are what's called majoritarian or first-past-the-post
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Several election districts in Georgia will have to vote again on October 14 because the results of the October 1 parliamentary election were annulled due to violations, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC). The commission decided on Wednesday
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The physical harassment and psychological pressure against the district election commissions is continuing. Activists from the Georgian Dream party, which won the parliamentary election last week, are now accused of harassing local authorities in Marneuli
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Four days after the election, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said the counting of votes had been completed and announced the final results. After collating votes from 3 766 district, preliminary results show the Georgian Dream coalition received
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A video was publishedThursday showing a person wearing a mask breaking into one of the election precincts in Khashuri, a small town in eastern Georgia. On election day Monday, there were reports about special units breaking into several precincts
TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian Dream and others are protesting outside the election commission offices in nineteen one-past-the-post districts where the National Movement party is winning. According to the latest figures from the Central Election Commission, Georgian Dream
TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili's party lost the election in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. This is his favorite region which he visits frequently. Georgian Dream coalition got 57.6 percent of the votes according to the most recent figures from the
TBILISI, DFWatch – The U.S. Secretary of State responded to Monday’s election in Georgia congratulating Georgians on their peaceful and active participation in the election. A statement published on the State Department website says the election was a historic day for
TBILISI, DFWatch – The counting of votes is almost finished in Georgia and results show that the opposition leads with 55.1 percent, against the ruling National Movement with 40.1 percent of votes. The other parties seem to not overcome the 5 percent barrier for getting
TBILISI, DFWatch – International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) summed up events on Election Day and reported about violations. The organization had 300 observers at 63 election district from 73. ISFED found that the election process went mostly with
TBILISI, DFWatch – A group carrying out parallel vote counting has estimated that Georgian Dream won by 54.6 to 40.7 percent over National Movement. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) published their results of parallel vote tabulation (PVT).
TBILISI, DFWatch – OSCE says Georgia made an important step in consolidating the conduct of democratic elections, but there are still some key issues left needing to address. The organization has the largest contingent of election observers here, under its Office for
TBILISI, DFWatch – The election result from several precincts in three districts of Georgia may be annulled, says the head of Central Election Commission (CEC). Due to tension at several precincts in Khashuri that were stormed by special police units yesterday,
TBILISI, DFWatch – Official results from the Central Election Commission at 06:20 am local time showed that the opposition Georgian Dream was leading with 54.61 percent ahead of the ruling National Movement party with 40.44 percent. Counting is still ongoing. These results
TBILISI, DFWatch – Special police forces stormed several election precincts in Georgia, seized the ballot box and rewrote the protocol, in order to prevent an opposition victory. Special units of the police have entered several election precincts in Khashuri, a small
TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian Young Lawyer's Association discovered many violations during the election October 1. At a press conference 21:00 GYLA detailed their findings. The organization has information that near two election precincts special forces are mobilized.
TBILISI, DFWatch – According to Maestro TV's exit poll, the opposition Georgian Dream coalition is set to win also in districts with the majoritarian (first-past-the-post) system in the capital: Mtatsimnda, Tbilisi – National movement candidate has 23 percent; Georgian
TBILISI, DFWatch – Another series of violations are regularly reported through local non-government organizations, media outlets and social networks from all over the country in Monday's parliamentary elections. The movement Multinational Georgia reports about twenty
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili concedes that his National Movement party has been defeated in the parliamentary election in districts with the proportional system, but won in districts with majoritarian candidates. Saakashvili thanked people
TBILISI, DFWatch – All the exit polls published after voting ended show that the opposition has won the election in Georgia. Also the pro-government TV channels show Georgian Dream winning. Rustavi 2's exit poll show the following: Georgian Dream 51 percent, National
TBILISI, DFWatch – The leader of Georgia's opposition coalition has not voted in Monday's parliamentary election. Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of Georgian Dream, says he refuses to use his new constitutional right to vote, thereby adhering to a statement he made
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Local non-governmental organizations are reporting about different kinds of violations in Monday's election. Transparency International Georgia (TI) reports that one of the main problems is that there are not enough ballot-papers and envelopes in
TBILISI, DFWatch – In Georgia the most important election in recent history is underway. According to the Central Election Commission, there was a 25.5 voter turnout by 12:00. There have already been reports of violations. Many see the parliamentary election as a test
TBILISI, DFWatch – The kidnapping and killing of a 10 months old girl from an opposition activists' family has pushed a strained electoral atmosphere towards the boiling point. A ten-month old infant was today found dead in a pitcher full of water after declared
TBILISI, DFWatch – An unprecedented 61 000 local observers will follow tomorrow's parliamentary election, head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) says. There are more than 33 000 representatives of election subjects and representatives of political parties in
TBILISI, DFWatch – The leader of the largest opposition coalition says there will be set a new precedent in Georgia’s recent history, when the government is changed through election. Bidzina Ivanishvili appeared confident in front media after meeting
TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian patriarch on Sunday stated that he expects Monday’s election to be without fraud and that people will vote for who they want. Numerous polls have shown Patriarch Illia II to be the most trusted person in Georgia, scoring higher than
TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian Dream coalition which is challenging President Saakashvili's power in Monday's parliamentary election, mobilized over a hundred thousand supporters in the center of Tbilisi Saturday. The coalition also held a rally in the country's
TBILISI, DFWatch - The party currently in power in Georgia Friday organized a rally counting thousands at the national football stadium in Tbilisi. Majoritarian candidates and other members of the United National Movement party, as well as government officials, held
TBILISI, DFWatch – A court in Georgia has ruled that the Central Election Commission's decision to establish tight regulations for media on Election Day are legal. The rules in practice make it impossible to take photos and videos at election precincts. Under the current
TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has established many prohibitions on the use of photographic equipment at election precincts, which in fact restricts and makes it impossible to take photos on Election Day. Use of photos may document
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian emigrants Monday returned to their homeland to protest the restriction of their right to vote. A number of Georgian emigrants today arrived in Batumi, a port city on the Black Sea coast, and held a protest rally in front of a public
TBILISI, DFWatch – The largest opposition bloc in Georgia refuses to sign a code of conduct signed by other political parties, because signing it would force it to recognize the election results if the international community does so. Friday Georgian media reported that
TBILISI, DFWatch - Representatives of the Council of Europe's observer mission will arrive in Georgia next week in order to get familiar with the situation before the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 1. Nino Kalandadze, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, said
TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream party accuses government of attempting to legally falsify the parliamentary election. One of the coalition's lawyers Zakaria Kutsnashvili said Thursday that the amended election code regulates the issue of voters
TBILISI, DFWatch – Democracy groups demand that the date of the parliamentary is brought forward for Georgians living abroad. The election is scheduled for October 1, but the groups it brought forward to September 29 or 30. The groups say in an application to the Central Election
TBILISI, DFWatch - The seizing of the bank accounts of an opposition figure and his partner, a former AC Milan player, has strengthened the perception of a selective and disproportionate application of the law, according to a new report by National Democratic Institute.
TBILISI, DFWatch – The largest opposition coalition in Georgia may be fined again, after the State Audit Office has said certain individuals implemented financial operations in the name of Georgian Dream, which is prohibited by law. A statement by the State Audit
TBILISI, DFWatch - People dressed in National Movement t-shirts are handing out gifts to people Telavi, a town in eastern Georgia. They give them 10 kg of flour, 5 kg of pasta, a bottle of oil and 2 pieces of washing powder. According to the Informational Center of
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian National Platform, a coalition of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has released a statement regarding the period leading up to the parliamentary election. The National Platform was set up in October 2010 with a goal to support
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's State Audit Service wants to fine a non-governmental organization (NGO) which supports the government by 5 000 lari, or about USD 3 000. The State Audit Service, which has authority to track the financial relations of political parties and
TBILISI, DFWatch - Eleven party lists and coalitions have agreed to election campaign financing. Central Election Commission informs that Freedom to Way of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgian Dasi, Free Georgia, New Rights Party, Christian Democrats, People’s
TBILISI, DFWatch – An American pro-democracy group says it's questionable whether there is rule of law in Georgia. The non-government organization (NGO) Committee for Open Democracy said at a press conference on Friday that the organization will have 20 observers
TBILISI, DFWatch - A spokesperson for President Mikheil Saakahsvili says the president is thankful to a delegation from OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly which recently criticized conditions here before the election. The experts visited Georgia in order to the study the
TBILISI, DFWatch – A delegation from the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) which is in Georgia to observe the election says Georgia’s law enforcement bodies lack objectivity. The observers mainly criticize the State Audit Office, saying they act on the basis
TBILISI, DFWatch – Observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are now in place in Tbilisi and have started monitoring events leading in preparation for the parliamentary election. ODIHR will publish its final report two months
Two officials in the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in a new statement express concern about how Georgia's authorities are enforcing a set of new tough campaign finance rules. The regulations were ushered in late in 2011, after the appearance
TBILISI, DFWatch – The largest opposition bloc in Georgia has decided to join the code of conduct for political parties. The rules were the brainchild of the campaign This Affects You Too, and the 17-point document outlines rules of conduct for political parties
TBILISI, DFWatch – The largest opposition bloc in Georgia was denied to register under the number seven on the ballot in the upcoming parliamentary election. Representatives of the Georgian Dream coalition say that they have asked the Central Election Commission
TBILISI, DFWatch - Political parties in Georgia are ready to agree with rules of conduct prepared by the campaign This Affects You Too intended to secure a peaceful, fair and competitive electoral environment before the October 1 parliamentary election. The ruling
TBILISI, DFWatch - Riccardo Migliori, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, will arrive in Georgia for the election period, together with a delegation from the OSCE. According to parliament's press office, the delegation will arrive on August 19 and hold
TBILISI, DFWatch – The inter-agency commission tasked with monitoring the election process calls on local governments not to place party symbols in their offices, as this is a violation of law. Tamar Kintsurashvili, a member of the commission, said on Monday
TBILISI, DFWatch - The opposition Georgian Dream coalition continues to name its majoritarian. This time the candidates for the High Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. The nominees are mathematician Amiran Mamuladze in Khulo, doctor
TBILISI, DFWatch - A cameraman for an opposition affiliated media outlet was today beaten by a local employee of Lanchkhuti town. His camera was broken in the incident. It happened while a journalist and a cameraman from info9 were standing outside the
TBILISI, DFWatch - Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian president’s main competitor, plans to win in the western Samegrelo region by having the country's former UN ambassador run there. The region borders on Russian controlled Abkhazia and is that part of the country where Mikheil Saakashvili’s government has the largest influence. Bidzina Ivanishvili named Irakli Alasania as majoritarian candidate in Zugdidi on Wednesday while meeting with the local population. Georgia has an election system with some districts using the proportional system and some the first-past-the-post system, called majoritarian candidates. 73 of the latter must be elected, and the deadline for naming candidates is September 1, one month before the election on October 1. Georgian Dream has already named 68 candidates. Those districts that are left are those that have a minority population. Forming the pillar of Saakashvili's power grip in Samegrelo is the Akhalaia family, which wields large influence in the area. One of the family is a former defense minister, who currently is interior minister – Bacho Akhalaia – while his brother, Data Akhalaia, today is defense minister, but until recently headed the feared secret ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian Dream, the strongest competitor to the party of Presidential Mikheil Saakashvili, calls on foreign diplomats and international organizations in Tbilisi to react 'correctly and adequately' regarding ongoing political processes in Georgia.
TBILISI, DFWatch – It is still unknown when international observers will start monitoring the election in Georgia. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 1, but long-term observsers have not yet arrived in the country. Local rights groups have for months
TBILISI, DFWatch - There are 3 621 256 voters in Georgia, according to Central Election Commission's (CEC) preliminary data, which was published today. According to the CEC, there are 84 election districts in the country. The majority of voters,155 502, are from
TBILISI, DFWatch – In Georgia, the government's main competitor, Georgian Dream, claims that they support fair and free elections and accuses the government of attempting to provoke civil confrontation. Georgian Dream released this statement on Monday as a response
TBILISI, DFWatch - A United Nations envoy says the new party finance rules Georgia introduced in December are a violation of human rights. Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai says that ‘they at times use ambiguous language, are fuelling an overall climate of distrust, and
TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in Georgia increases the state funding of political TV ads to create a more level playing field for this year’s election. But analysts say it’s not enough. An extra 2.2 million laris, or nearly 1.3 million US dollars, will be set aside in the state budget for subsidized political advertisements. The money will be distributed among twelve parties which garnered enough votes in the local elections in 2010. Parties in Georgia already receive a state subsidy for buying air time, but government says that increasing the amount will be an extra lever to create an equal electoral environment. But commentators claim the measure is not enough and if the prices of political advertisement aren’t regulated, releasing this money cannot bring the desired results. Pavle Kublashvili, head of the parliament judiciary committee, says that the 30Th article of the law about political union of the citizens will have a new twelfth article, where there will be written that during the electoral period the qualified subjects will be allocated extra money for TV commercials. Subsidizing the TV commercials of political parties ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The political partners of the Georgian tycoon turned opposition leader will have to return the money they received from him. Otherwise, they must give it to the state. This is the consequence of a new bill approved by parliament on Wednesday at the third and last hearing. The final version of the bill states that 'political associations of citizens’ which have received funds in violation of its regulations and have not spent it by the moment of the enactment of the law, must return the money within three days. Otherwise, this sum must be handed over to the state. The law requires the signature of the president before it is effective. This means that the law applies to funds political parties received before the bill came into force. Pavle Kublashvili, chairman of Parliament's judicial committee, says that the law adopted by the parliament has no counteracting force. Authorities began the process to tighten the laws on campaign financing a few week ago. This was shortly after the richest Georgian and possible the richest man in the southern Caucasus region decided to ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - As a bundle of election related bills are up for final review in parliament, it became clear Tuesday that the ruling party is against a proposal prepared by media workers about how to conduct monitoring of media fairness during the election campaign. The proposal concerns changes to the Election Code and the law about the Political Unions of Citizens, two of the most important laws being updated. On several issues there was not agreement, and parts of the changes were therefore postponed to the third hearing later. Media monitoring is important, because the media in Georgia has been met with significant distrust from the population. The national TV networks are seen as fundamentally pro-government, and during past elections there have been gross violations of ethical standards, including a staged shooting on election day in May 2008, which appears to have been part of a PR exercise by president Mikheil Saakashvili to mobilize voters. In addition to direct violations, the coverage is largely perceived as biased and favoring the authorities, with national networks regularly providing the government with opportunities to hold spectacular ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Tuesday Georgia's new election system should have been passed in parliament, but the package of bills was stopped in the last minute by a group of rights activists, who warned of potential problems. The groups are sounding the alarm that the new election system does not create a level playing field. Several experts and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) think the rules are not only unfair, but also a hindrance to a democratic development in Georgia. Whereas a fair election environment and a competitive environment with equal conditions are necessary for a democratic development of the country, they point to many shortcomings in the proposed rules, pointing particularly to changes in the Electoral Code and the law about Political Unions of Citizens. The crux of the matter as they see it is that there are new restrictions on party financing. These make it hard for private players to affect the process. But on the other hand, there is not a correspondingly strict regime imposed on how the public makes use of its resources in the election campaign. This could lead to a ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - As less than a year is left until Georgians will go to the polls again, the government should have been moving ahead with a commission to go through the electoral roll, following a rush law amendment, but as of now the commission has not yet been set up. To have such a commission was part an agreement struck between the Government and part of the opposition last summer, which marked the start of a process to overhaul the whole election system in Georgia ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in the next two years. A draft was sent to the Venice Commission for final review in the end of August, and the Council of Europe body will give its verdict on the plan December 16 or 17, according to Venice Commission chairman Tomas Markert. Much of the draft includes issues agreed with the part the opposition, including electoral system reform, party financing issues, how to handle disputes in connection with elections. But it also contained some issues which was not agreed with the opposition, such as governors' right to participate ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The election reform has been postponed for two months. It should have ended by the end of October, but is delayed until the end of December. The government explains the delay with the need to wait until the Venice Commission publishes its final conclusion. A few days ago, Venice Commission chairman Tomas Markert, stated that their conclusion will be published on December 16 or 17. After that, parliament will start reviewing the bill. When parliament therefore waits until the Commission has had its say on the overhauled election law, it comes following an agreement between the government and the opposition. Nevertheless, it’s unclear whether the Council of Europe body´s remarks will be heeded or not. “We the opposition representatives hoped and gave this a chance; but the government has a necessity to make a product on the bases of an agreement and not only on its own initiative. This necessity gives me hope that there is a chance that firstly, all twelve points of the agreement will be implemented and on the other hand, the government’s unilateral initiatives will ...
Georgia's ruling party has made it illegal for a political candidate to let him or herself be caught up in backroom deals with campaign contributors. The opposition thinks it's done to undermine their financing. While the laws against corruption here as in other countries applies to elected officials, Georgia has widened criminal liability to also include persons standing in elections, usually not a crime in most countries, although heavily criticized, unless there is a direct "quid pro quo". According to a new bill, requesting or obtaining money, securities, other property and property benefits and any undue advantage by an election candidate will be punishable. The new law is viewed with suspicion in opposition quarters. They fear that they will be cut off from private financing ahead of elections, a view shared by experts as well as a broad swathe of the population: In a debate on Maestro TV Monday night 98 % of callers voted that the new law is a way of targeting the opposition. “I don’t think it’s legal, because firstly candidate is not a public servant and secondly, various promises are ...
Three rights groups refuse to take part in a new system meant to guarantee every Georgian the right to vote, because they think the reform may make things worse. Parliament has just decided to establish a new system for going through the voters rolls and make sure that every citizen who has a right to vote is on the list, and no-one else. But three organizations think the new arrangement won't be good enough and will boycott its work. Every past election has been plagued by mistakes on the voter's roll which some think are made deliberate to manipulate the outcome. The new system was supposed to guarantee every citizen the right to vote, following criticism from the Council of Europe. But three rights group are skeptical. Tamar Chugoshvili, chairman of Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) doesn’t rule out that the voters' roll will be even more plagued by mistakes than it is today. The groups think despite being plagued by problems, it would be better to keep the old system and have the new commission only as a supplement. Under the new system, ...
Two observers from the Council of Europe (CoE) have asked Georgia's ruling party to stop coming up with surprise changes in a draft law without going through the normal democratic procedures. At least according to one of the opposition politicians, two rapporteurs from the Monitoring Committee of the CoE's Parliamentary Assembly asked Georgia's ruling party to stick to what has been agreed with other politicial factions and not go it alone. "They think that if there is an attitude that we want to agree on the document, then there must not occur non-coordinated issues," Mamuka Katsitadze, a member of the New Rights party told DFWatch after a meeting with the rapporteurs. Georgia has been reworking its entire election system since 2010, after being criticized by the CoE for shortcomings. President Saakashvili's party entered into talks with the opposition, but most of them left the talks. After a deal was struck with two factions, the ruling party changed the draft without consulting anyone. The rapporteurs who were here on a working visit focused on the election system in general, but particularly the issue of how ...
Work to improve the Georgian election environment has ended as a draft has been sent off to the Council of Europe's Venice Commission for review and the government promises that parliament will not start its review until the results of the review are clear. It's hard to say what the Venice Commission's conclusions will be and how well the government has anticipated its remarks. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have already criticized the amendments to the draft law. In their view, this project does not include many substantive changes to improve the election environment. On the contrary, some sections make the situation even worse than it is today; or the vagueness of some regulations make it impossible to understand the different formulations. Last year when talks began to change the election law, it was said that reforms were needed in several areas: More transparency in the election itself, the monitoring process, changes regarding the handling og voters's lists, the election system, use of administrative resources, election financing, election administration, election disputes and sanctions for violations of the election law. The draft sent to the ...
Three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are seriously concerned after the government's sudden changes to the draft for a new election law. Now that rights advocates have had time to look closer at the changes, which were worked out behind everyone's backs and revealed a week ago, their conclusion is that this is a disappointment to everyone who had been hoping for freer and fairer elections in Georgia. "The new changes to the Electoral Code do not improve the electoral process at all," Tamar Chugoshvili, chairman of Georgian Young Lawyer's Association, said as three NGOs presented their conclusions at Radisson Hotel Tbilisi on Friday. "On the contrary, the changes make the election process unclear," she said. "The government won't be able to sell the changes as a part of the agreement with the opposition" --Mamuka Katsitadze, New Rights Party Talks to change the election law started last year to accomodate critique from the Council of Europe's Venice Commission. But most opposition parties dropped out of the talks, and the government finally reached an agreement with only two opposition factions. Then the draft was sent off to ...
After reaching a hard-fought agreement with several opposition parties, the ruling party has introduced significant changes in the draft for a new Georgian Election Code. According to lawmakers, the eleventh-hour changes were only made in order to ensure a democratic election environment in the country, however many opposition parties remain skeptical. Some of the changes in the draft were made due to recommendations tabled last year by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal and constitutional affairs. The latest draft is already sent to the Commission for another round of review. Work to reform the election process began in October 2010 with talks between a coalition of opposition parties and the ruling National Movement party, but in the end, the ruling party managed to strike an agreement only with two out of eight opposition groups. "There is no point in discussing things in an editorial group if the government continues with such surprises" -- Levan Vepkhvadze, Christian Democrat party The agreement envisages nine basic changes which will come into force in time for the parliamentary elections in 2012. Eight of them were ...
The United States ambassador at the time thought that two recordings which were televised by Saakashvili's government right before the presidential election in January 2008, decided the final outcome in his favor. The two clandestinely acquired tapes purportedly proved that one the president's challengers to the presidency had plans to commit a coup d'etat. The new cable released by WikiLeaks shows that just as the country geared up for presidential elections on January 5, the U.S. ambassador John Tefft thought there was considerable uncertainty about the outcome, until the government released the tapes. "We believe [the secret tapes] have turned the tide in Saakashvili's favor, as most Georgians were shocked and revolted by an alleged plot..." - U.S. Ambassador John Tefft, 04.01.2008 "The polls are unreliable and all over the map. Those commissioned by the opposition show former president Saakashvili not gaining enough to win a first round victory; those commissioned by the ruling party show just the opposite. The most interesting aspect of all the polls is their common denominator: a large number (some 25 percent) of undecided voters. The key to ...