TBILISI, DFWatch – A pro-democracy campaign in the former Soviet republic Georgia is noting a slight progress as parliament Wednesday took into account their criticism.
The groups have said that recent changes to the campaign finance rules pose a threat to democracy.
After launching a campaign in February and holding consultations, the groups note these breakthroughs:
The concept of a person ‘indirectly related” to a political party will be removed from the law;
The Chamber of Control won’t have authority to impose restrictions on a person because of expressing political sympathies or antipathies;
The list of persons on which restrictions for political parties will apply will be clarified and clearly defined;
Voters won’t have criminal responsibility for receiving benefits from political parties;
A person won’t be prevented from engaging in business enterprise if it is not directly related to electoral goals;
The Chamber of Control won’t have the right to sequester property, but it can only be done for disputed property and only on a court’s decision;
The amount of sanctions and fines will be decreased;
In case of violating the law about political unions, electoral registration of parties won’t be canceled anymore.
These are the main issues that have been agreed between the parties. NGOs consider this a first successful step, which should be followed by more actions to create a free and fair electoral environment.
They say there are still problems in the legislation and that they will keep pushing to have the laws reformed.
Georgia enforced a new set of tough campaign finance rules last December which came under heavy criticism for violating the freedom of expression, property rights and a wide range of other democratic rights. Think tanks in Tbilisi launched a campaign called ‘This Affects You Too’ and proposed changes to the law.