Georgia’s local elections were competitive and technically well administered, but marred by widespread allegations of electoral violations, vote-buying, and an unlevel playing field, as well as intimidation and pressure, international observers said in a statement today.
The joint observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the European Parliament (EP) found that the legal framework was conducive to holding democratic elections. However, the legislation still remains unnecessarily complex and over-regulates many aspects of the process, and despite a number of improvements, requires further refinement to address remaining shortcomings.
“These elections saw a large range of candidates campaigning freely and many diverse views. They were also run transparently and professionally,” said Albert Jónsson, who heads the ODIHR election observation mission. “However, an increasingly aggressive political discourse and even cases of physical violence were of deep concern. Widespread and consistent claims of violations need to be thoroughly investigated by the authorities.”.
Some 3.5 million citizens were registered to vote. The elections were centred on national political issues due to a protracted political crisis overshadowing local issues. While the candidate registration process was inclusive, many opposition candidates withdrew from the race, a number of them reportedly under pressure from the ruling party. Women hardly featured in the campaign and are generally underrepresented in public office, making up less than a fifth of seats both in parliament and the outgoing local councils, the statement read.
Local #elections in ??Georgia competitive and well run, but marred by allegations of pressure on voters, vote-buying and an unlevel playing field, international observers say. Read more: https://t.co/qZJ3jHecZt pic.twitter.com/ZJxj3xNMoY
— OSCE/ODIHR (@osce_odihr) October 3, 2021