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.
“From the Congress’ perspective, the election was a missed opportunity for local democracy in Georgia. It became, in fact, a referendum on the national government and overshadowed local issues, which is regrettable,” said David Eray, Head of the Congress delegation. “In addition, the situation of women in local politics remains an issue in Georgia, despite recent legislative amendments.”
“The election administration managed the process efficiently, amidst the circumstances caused by the pandemic. The sessions of the Central Election Commission were open and live-streamed for the first time, increasing the transparency of the process. Meanwhile, doubts were expressed over the impartiality of the lower-level election administration, particularly at the precinct level.
Election day went smoothly overall, and the international observers had a positive assessment in the overwhelming majority of polling stations. However, there was concern over the widely observed practice of observer organisation representatives acting as party supporters and even interfering in the voting process, as well as the intimidating presence of party activists outside some polling stations,” according to the statement.
The observers said, “the election campaign was generally calm, although cases of violence, and aggressive confrontation were observed as election day drew closer. Allegations of electoral violations by both opposition and ruling party were numerous throughout the campaign. In addition, the announcement of large-scale government projects was not in line with the spirit of the law. This, together with the involvement of senior state officials in the campaign, gave the ruling party an undue advantage.”
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