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 pre-electoral environment, however competitive, did not provide a level playing field for the contesting parties and candidates,” said Michael Gahler, Head of the EP Delegation.
“Widespread and consistent allegations and personal testimonies should lead the competent authorities to investigate robustly cases of intimidation aiming at the withdrawal of opposition candidatures, pressure on civil servants, misuse of administrative resources, huge imbalances of financial means, in order not to further strengthen a feeling of impunity. For the post-electoral period and beyond we would wish that the government and all parties follow the mature attitude Georgian citizens have shown by going to the polls in a peaceful spirit,” Michael Gahler underscored.
As the observers noted, “Georgia’s media scene is diverse but strongly polarized, mirroring the deep divide between the ruling party and the opposition. Although legislation guarantees freedom of expression and of the media, recent cases of intimidation and threats against journalists raise concerns about their ability to work in freedom and safety.”
The international election observation mission to the Georgian local elections totalled 334 observers from 37 countries, composed of 302 ODIHR experts and long- and short-term observers, 18 Congress members and staff from the Congress/Council of Europe, and 14 parliamentarians and staff from the EP.
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