Joint Monitoring Report on the Pre-Electoral Environment Presented at Today’s Meeting of ‘Council of Leaders’ in Tbilisi Marriot.
This document represents a joint monitoring report on the
pre-electoral environment by the oppositional electoral subjects.
It aims to unite the effort of the aforementioned in monitoring and
the evaluation of the electoral environment in face of mounting
pressure from the government.
Contributors to the report:
- ‘The New Right’
- ‘New Georgia’
- ‘New Christian-Democrats’
- ‘United Democratic Movement’
- ‘Democratic Movement – United Georgia’
- ‘National Democratic Party’
- ‘National Forum’
- ‘Free Georgia’
- ‘Civil Alliance for Freedom’
- ‘European Democrats of Georgia’
- ‘Georgian Labour Party’
- ‘Union of Georgian Traditionalists’
- ‘Movement – Sheneba’
- 'Political Movement of Patriots and Military Veterans'
Oppositional political parties/associations contributing to the
monitoring report express uttermost concern over the unfair and
discriminative pre-electoral environment of the 21 October 2017
The aforementioned issues are due to:
- Changes to the electoral code by the ruling party during the
run-up to elections, which gives asymmetrical advantage to the
- Extensive utilisation of the administrative resources by the
government for electoral purposes.
- Electoral Administration fully subordinate to the governmental
- Unfair preferential treatment of the ruling party in press in
general, and on the news programmes in particular. Direct and
indirect time dedicated to the oppositional candidates is highly
- Wide-scale harassment of the candidates and activists of
oppositional parties with well-known practices such as interference
in political campaigns and vandalising of campaign material.
- Dysfunctional Inter-Agency Commission, encouragement and
justification of electoral violations by top-ranking officials, as
well as indifference to these issues by law enforcing organs.
- Electoral environment in Georgia has deteriorated year by year
under the current government.
- It has reached a point beyond which, it will be impossible to
achieve peaceful transition of the government through democratic
- Results of the 2017 Municipal Elections are premeditated.
During the 21 October 2017 Municipal Elections, voters will elect
2058 members of 64 Sakrebulos and 64 Mayors throughout the
territory of Georgia.
The ruling party – the ‘Georgian Dream’ has become a dominant
political force following the 2012 Parliamentary elections. On 2014
Municipal elections, it took victory in all self-governing entities
with 12 Mayors and 59 Governors; took more than 50% of the
proportional vote as well as taking the majority of majoritarian
mandates. On 8 October 2016 parliamentary elections, the ruling
party attained constitutional majority (115 mandates out of 150),
in spite of receiving 49% of the total vote.
Pre-electoral environment was plagued by political polarisation and
bitter confrontation. The ruling party tailored the new
constitution according to its needs, voted and ratified it in the
Parliament. One should note that the President’s Administration,
all oppositional parties and leading Non-Governmental
Organisations, harshly criticised the document. The government,
which is absolutely, yet informally, controlled by the billionaire
oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, turned down all proposals to reach a
consensus. Thus, the ‘Georgian Dream’ single-handedly adopted the
fundamental document of the state.
Currently, the greatest threat to the Georgian state is informal
rule. The former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili
exercises absolute and uncontested influence over the government;
the most important political and economic actors; the media and the
rest of the non-governmental sector. The latest example of this was
Tbilisi City Hall Assembly’s transfer of the state property, on
Central square of Tbilisi, to the company owned by Bidzina
Ivanishvili at the symbolic cost of 1 Georgian Lari.
4.Legal Amendments during the run-up to
The number of self-governing cities was reduced from 12 to 5.
On 27 July 2017, amendment was made to Georgian electoral code
regarding the appointment of electoral commissions and the
Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission, effective from 21
October. Given regulations, to our conviction, gives further
advantage to the ruling party, while minimising political
pluralism, which in turn nullifies our trust in electoral
Furthermore, we believe that the aforementioned amendment can be
used maliciously against political opponents of the ‘Georgian
Dream’: to minimise dissent, or to tamper with election results
with no adequate oversight.
i. Georgian Electoral Code (GEC) 26th Article, Part 2, Paragraph D
gives district commissions power to change summative protocols
during 24 hours after the vote, based on the obscure “legal
explanation and/or other factual basis.”
ii. GEC 8th Article, 8th Paragraph limits the power of the
electoral commission to study the statement/complaint, if the
chairperson of the electoral commission has issued an order to
iii. GEC 91st Article, 1st Paragraph instituted 500 GEL penalty on
those who interfere in functions and dealings of the electoral
5.Utilisation of the Administrative Resource:
Utilisation of the administrative resources for electoral goals is
Top-ranking officials regularly take part in pre-electoral events
organised by the ruling party, which singlehandedly represents the
utilisation of the administrative resource.
- People employed at the public kindergartens and schools regularly
take part in the meetings of the candidates of the ’Georgian
Dream’. For instance, footage has appeared in the media which
confirms, that the deputy-head of the Agency for Kindergartens,
Nikoloz Tordadze directs the Kindergarten teachers to
collect the list of supporters of the ruling party.
- Representatives of the government were exposed in harassment of
the Muslim Population in the District of Adigeni, Village
Irganchai. For instance, the lawyer of the Dmanisi Headquarters of
the ruling party, Emzar Petriashvili was forcing the locals to make
oath on Qur’an to support the ruling party in
- In Zestaponi, 51/02 Shorapani majoritarian district, candidate of
the ‘Georgian Dream’ Koba Gochelishvili, personally, alongside with
members of his electoral headquarters, took part in road
constructions and are actively engaged in political agitation of
the ruling party. On 14 October (7 days before the
election day), relevant video footage, alongside with complaint,
was submitted to the Zestaponi district electoral commission, which
set the deadline for ‘investigation’ 15 days later.
- As part of the pre-electoral campaign, with taxpayers’ money,
Tbilisi City Hall filmed an advertisement named ‘Made for Georgia’,
the scenario of which consists of accomplished projects under the
current administration of the City Hall. Furthermore, in relation
to the aforementioned, the
violation was registered by the Georgian National Communications
- On October the 14th, presentation was held over the governmental
project on construction of roads in mountainous regions which was
headed by the ‘Georgian Dream’ Member of the Parliament, Zakaria
- October the 16th, (5 days prior to election day) saw the opening
of the new Metro Station in Tbilisi in which, top-ranking
government officials appeared alongside with the candidate for
Just like all previous elections, the selection process of
‘independent’ commission members in district and regional electoral
commissions was fully devoid of transparency, sparking widespread
discussion in Georgian media, as well as among international
observers and local Non-Governmental Organisations in their interim
Electoral Administration has become fully subordinate to the
governmental control. District and Electoral administrations are
mostly staffed by activists of the Georgian Dream and instead of
being subordinate to the Central Electoral Commission, they receive
orders from regional/district headquarters of the ruling party.
‘Channel Two’ of the Public Broadcaster which offered the coverage
to the opposition even in times of unfair media control of the
previous government, was closed down prior to municipal elections
and all its political programmes were shut down.
The one and only debate between the
candidates for Tbilisi Mayorship was held on Public Broadcaster two
days before the election day.
Furthermore, the government keeps attacking independent television
Television company ‘Maestro used to be one of the strongest
independent channels in Georgia. After the merger with the
government-backed media holding, the channel ceased its political
programmes and remains idle.
Television Company ‘Imedi’, on the other hand, which was being
protected vehemently by the Georgian society in face of
undemocratic and illegal decision of the previous government, has
now become merely an annex to the press centre of the ruling party.
Editorial policy of the channel is wholly dependent on the
interests of the government propaganda. The Primetime of ‘Imedi’ is
mainly dedicated to two political parties: ‘Georgian Dream’
(49,61%) and ‘European Georgia’ (19,67%). All other parties share
the remaining 30,72%).
In ‘Interim Report on the 21 October 2017 Municipal Elections’ of
the Georgian National Communications Commission
(23/08/3027-22/09/2017), data on direct and indirect airtime of
political parties shows clear and disproportionate preferential
treatment of the ‘Georgian Dream’.
8.Unequal Financial Resources:
According to the report by the State Audit Office, from 1 July to
15 October, electoral subjects received the following amounts of
i. Georgian Dream’ – 11 640 Georgian Laris (90%)
ii. European Georgia’ – 931 000 Laris (7%)
iii. Rest of the opposition – 430 100 (3%)
Aforementioned figures represent an unprecedented disparity –
declared donations of the ruling party are 9 times greater than the
rest of the opposition, whereas if we take ‘European Georgia’ out
of equation – Georgian Dream has 27 times (!) funds donated to
Undeclared, or the so-called ‘black money’, however, plays far
greater role. Electoral headquarters of the ruling party funds tens
of thousands (according to our estimates 16-18 thousand in Tbilisi
and 32-35 thousand in the rest of Georgia) district coordinators
during two months of their work (200 GEL to each coordinator per
month), including door-to-door programme, which, to our belief,
constitutes 16-20 million GEL. Furthermore, logistical support of
the aforementioned personnel costs further 35-40 million
undeclared Laris to district/regional headquarters, which,
in turn, surpasses the declared funding 3-3,5
As of 2 October, ‘Georgian Dream’ has spent 59 000 GEL in wages.
According to our estimates, just like the 2016 Parliamentary
elections, (when the ‘Georgian Dream’ spent 25 million Laris on its
70,000 coordinators, out of which only 189 900 Laris were
declared), the ruling party is planning to spend its undeclared
funds on wages for its coordinators.
State Auditor’s Office, on the other hand, the agency responsible
for control and oversight, remains indifferent to the issue and is
preoccupied by clarification of minor details with the
The aforementioned issue has virtually evaded the attention
of international observers.
Furthermore, sources of undeclared funds paid to coordinators evade
the income tax, given the volumes and group nature of the
violation, according to Georgian criminal law, this act is
considered as a crime with aggravating circumstances.
The governmental scheme for financing a governmental subject
(declared or covert) is to award contract to the public
procurement without public tenders, in exchange of donations to the
political subject. (Information based on investigative
journalism by ‘Rustavi 2’ and ‘Studio Monitor’.
For the oppositional parties, on the other hand, it is virtually
impossible to mobilise, even basic, financial resources – i.e. bank
9.Harassment of the oppositional candidates:
- The governor of the Zestaponi Municipality Tariel Tutarashvili
and the workers of the Security Service have forced the removal of
the candidacy of the Shorapani majoritarian candidate of the
'Democratic Movement - Free Georgia' Gocha Laghundaridze.
- Similarly, other candidates of the bloc are being harassed in the
same district, as well as in the district of Racha-Lechkhumi (by
the head of the local Security Service Levan Jmukhadze.
- We observe the same in case of the Majortirarian candidate of the
Municipality of Lagodekhi Shahin Mirzaevi in the Village
- At the 45th electoral district of Tsageri, the candidate for
mayorship of the 'Dimitri Lortkipanidze - Kakha Kukava, Democratic
Movement - Free Georgia' Bezhan Ghurchumeladze, withdrew his
candidacy several days before the election. The reason behind the
withdrawal of his candidacy was a continuous harassment of him, his
close ones and relatives from the current Member of the Parliament,
and the member of the 'Georgian Dream' Karlo Kopaliani.
- Several days prior to the election day, across the country, 21
candidates for mayorship and 196 potential majoritarians withdrew
their candidacy. The fact that all of them were either candidates
of different oppositional parties, or the candidates of the
Initiative Group, and none of them were the members of the Georgian
dream, is disturbing and questionable.
Just like all previous elections, the selection process of
‘independent’ commission members in district and regional electoral
commissions was fully devoid of transparency.
Therefore, so far, only 15% of complaints submitted to electoral
commissions has been (at least partially) satisfied, the majority
of which relates to minor procedural violations.
One should also note that significant part of complaints submitted
(32%) to administrations regarded the use of administrative
resources and illegal participation of ineligible people in
political agitation. Only one complaint of this type, out of all
complaints, was satisfied - the one against the member of the
commission appointed by the oppositional party.
Zurab Kharatishvili – Civil Alliance for Freedom
Mob: 577 99 88 58 Email: email@example.com
Tengiz Omanidze – Free Georgia
Mob: 599299338 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org