Campaign activities for Georgia’s October 8 parliamentary elections have so far “been limited and mainly conducted through rallies, small community meetings and door-to-door canvassing,” a long-term election observation mission from OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in its interim report.
The report, which covers a period between August 30 and September 19, says that “campaign messages mainly focused on socio-economic issues, the development of infrastructure, agriculture and Euro-Atlantic integration.”
“The elections are taking place in an environment influenced by the country’s poor economic performance along with the public disillusionment with the political elite,” the report reads.
OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, which was launched on August 30, consists of a 12-member core team based in Tbilisi and 26 long-term observers deployed throughout the country from 7 September.
The interim report says that “a few incidents of skirmishes between campaign staff and damage to party offices and campaign materials have been reported.”
It says that the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party and opposition United National Movement (UNM) “are the most active and visible among the contestants.”
“The tone of the campaign is confrontational, with both the UNM and GD accusing the other of exacerbating the confrontational situation in the electoral process. A number of incidents such as skirmishes between campaign staff, damage to party offices and campaign materials have been reported to the OSCE/ODIHR EOM and covered in the media,” reads the report.
“Although many investigations have been opened, several opposition parties expressed a deep mistrust in law enforcement institutions and the State Security Service. The OSCE/ODIHR EOM has received a number of allegations regarding the misuse of administrative resource, pressure on public employees, including requirements to attend campaign events and intimidation of campaign staff,” it says.
“The political tension between the GD and the UNM, including a violent confrontation in Kortskheli during the May 2016 local by-election, also negatively affects the atmosphere for elections,” reads the report.
According to the report, election “stakeholders express confidence” in the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) “professionalism and performance.”
“However, in the pre-election period, numerous allegations were made, mainly about DECs [District Election Commissions] not acting impartially when appointing lower-level commission members [in the Precinct Election Commissions - PECs]. The election officials made efforts to increase the transparency of PEC recruitment,” reads the report.
On media environment, the report says that “while presenting a diversity of views, media outlets, especially broadcast media, are often perceived as polarized along political lines.”