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‘General environment appropriate for democratic elections, still with room for improvement’ says delegation to Georgia

Strasbourg, 20.09.2018 - A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was in Tbilisi on 19 and 20 September 2018 to assess the pre-electoral climate of the presidential election in Georgia scheduled for 28 October.

The delegation,* led by Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), felt that the general environment was appropriate for democratic elections. However, following discussions with various interlocutors, it considered it necessary to stress that there still was room for improvement and that the period of time left until election day should allow at least some of these improvements to be realised.

The delegation was informed by interlocutors that the media landscape is polarised and heard allegations of hate speech and of personal attacks against candidates, led by certain media outlets and on social media. It strongly hoped that such attacks would come to an end and urged all media to rather focus on candidates’ political programmes and give them a balanced representation, even though there are a large number of candidates.

The delegation felt that the Central Election Committee (CEC) acted professionally and was preparing the election well. However, it considered that criticism coming from civil society concerning the methodology used for selecting some members of lower election bodies, which led to suspicions of nepotism and/or political interest, should be taken seriously into account, in order to increase public trust in the election administration at all levels.

It welcomed the active role played by civil society during the pre-election period, and recalled that civil society is one of the main players in a true democracy and should be respected as such.

The delegation said it expected no misuse of administrative resources during this election campaign, as was reported in past elections. It also underlined the need for complete transparency concerning the campaign financing of all candidates.

The delegation called on all stakeholders to contribute towards a genuinely democratic election campaign based on mutual respect.

The PACE delegation was in Tbilisi at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. It met with presidential candidates, with the Chairperson of the Central Election Committee, the Minister of Internal Affairs, representatives of civil society and the media, the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission and diplomats based in Tbilisi.

A 33-member delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will arrive in Georgia prior to the presidential election to observe the vote.

*Members of the delegation:

Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), Head of Delegation

Boriana Åberg (Sweden, EPP/CD)

Maryvonne Blondin (France, SOC)

Lord Blencathra (United Kingdom, EC)

Alfred Heer (Switzerland, ALDE)