PACE delegation on elections in Georgia
A five-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Luca Volontè (Italy, EPP/CD), which has carried out a pre-electoral mission to Tbilisi ahead of the parliamentary elections in Georgia on 1 October 2012, to assess the electoral framework and campaign held today a pressconference.
"The forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia, on 1 October 2012, are crucial for Georgia’s democratic development and will be a litmus test to confirm the country’s commitment to democratic values and principles.
"The pre-electoral delegation welcomed the competitive and pluralist election environment, which will give the voter a real choice between distinct alternatives on election day. However, the delegation expressed its serious concern about the increasing polarisation and antagonism in the pre-electoral environment, which is overshadowing the election campaign. Parties should refrain from such negative campaigning and focus on informing voters about their views and party platforms, according to their proper duties and responsibilities.
"The delegation stresses the importance of an equal playing field for all electoral contestants. It calls upon the authorities to continue to step up their efforts to eradicate the abuse of administrative resources. In addition, the delegation fully reaffirms the statement made by PACE’s co-rapporteurs for Georgia regarding the fines levied by the State Audit Service. In that respect the delegation welcomes the decision by the authorities not to levy the fines against the opposition parties that make up the Georgian Dream coalition. At the same time the delegation calls upon all electoral contestants to fully abide by the electoral legislation and stresses that perceived injustices in the law are not, and cannot be, a justification for breaking the law.
"The delegation noted the efficient technical preparations for these elections as a result of the new Electoral Code. In this respect it especially welcomed the work of the cross-party Voters` List Verification Commission to improve the quality of the voters list, which should contribute to increased public trust in the electoral process and its outcome.This bi-partisan effort underlines the possibilities for co-operation between opposition parties and ruling party to improve the democratic process in the country.
"The delegation welcomed the work of the Inter Agency Task Force to increase public trust in the election process. Public trust in the impartiality and fairness of the electoral process is essential for democratic elections. All parties and state actors should therefore take all possible steps to strengthen the public trust in the election process and refrain from any action that could undermine it. For the same reason, the delegation urges all election contestants not to question the legitimacy of the election and its outcome before the elections have even taken place", Luca Volontè said.
The delegation during the two days has held meetings with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Foreign Minister as well as representatives of the political parties running in the elections. Talks were held with the Georgian delegation to PACE, the Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, the Chairman of the Voters` List Verification Commission, the Chairman of the State Audit and with representatives of the diplomatic corps, civil society and the media.