Fate of proposed code of conduct for political parties is unclear as one of its points remains a source of controversy between the ruling party and its major opponent, Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition Georgian Dream.
The ruling United National Movement (UNM) put forth its version of text on July 14 for which it was criticized by the Georgian Dream for an attempt to hijack the process of development of the text, saying that it was in fact the initiative of civil society groups. On July 16 a coalition of election observer groups and media organizations, This Affects You Too, said the ruling party-proposed text was “not sufficient and enough for the genuine recovery of the process” and tabled seventeen-point declaration, which was also addressing executive authorities. Ruling party accepted the proposal on July 18 and offered other political parties to combine its four-point declaration with those principles tabled by This Affects You Too coalition.
While not directly rejecting to join the combined declaration, the Georgian Dream says work should continue on wording of some principles of the document.
The most of the reservations that make the Georgian Dream hesitant to join the document is its fourth point, which will commit undersigned parties to recognize election results “summarized by the Central Election Commission and deemed legitimate by observer organizations with credible reputation.”
This fourth point of the declaration, which was part of the UNM’s initial proposal, is prioritized by the ruling party, but the Georgian Dream representatives say it’s impossible to recognize election results “unconditionally”.
“We have our defined position about recognition of election results,” Zakaria Kutsnashvili, member of Ivanishvili’s party Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, told RFE/RL Georgian service on July 20. “We will not recognize election results unconditionally. As far as conditions are concerned, these conditions are very simple and clear: fair, free and peaceful… How can we recognize [election] results if elections are not free, fair and peaceful?”
Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for the Georgian Dream coalition, told Maestro TV on July 19, that parties “should work jointly on the text of this declaration with mediation of non-governmental organizations”, adding that the Georgian Dream’s legal team was working on wording of declaration’s principles. She also said that the fact in itself that parties needed to agree on certain code of conduct ahead of elections did not speak well about democracy in the country.
Ruling party representatives say that the Georgian Dream’s hesitation amounts to refusal to join the document and triggers “reasonable suspicion” that the Ivanishvili’s coalition might be preparing for post-election street protests if election results are not favorable for the Georgian Dream even if elections are deemed legitimate by credible and neutral observer organizations.
Davit Bakradze, parliamentary chairman, said on July 19 when announcing about the ruling party’s decision to accept principles offered by This Affects You Too campaign group, that all these points of the document should be acceptable for all the parties, “which are interested in holding really democratic elections instead of using elections as a pretext for triggering some other processes.”
Several political parties, including Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and New Rights have said they would join the declaration.