Parliamentary elections in Georgia on October 8 “were competitive, well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected,” OSCE/ODIHR-led international election observation mission said in its preliminary conclusions on Sunday.
While opening and voting were assessed “positively” in almost all polling stations, the international observers said that the ballot counting process was “assessed markedly worse” with 31 percent of counts assessed as “bad or very bad.”
“The negative assessments of counting were related to PECs [precinct election commissions] not following procedures rather than deliberate falsification,” the international observation mission said.
In this regard, the preliminary report lists procedural violations ranging from failure by PECs members to invalidate unused ballots before counting and to pack unused and spoiled ballots properly to not properly cross-checking protocol data after counting.
“In half of the observations, unauthorized individuals participated in the count. Tensions or unrest in the vicinity of the polling station was observed in almost 13 per cent of cases. Persons attempting to disrupt or obstruct the process and intimidate PEC members was also observed in 5 per cent of cases,” reads the report.
The international observation mission noted that “security became an issue” towards the end of polling and during the vote count when violent altercations affected the process in four polling stations – precinct No.48 in Marneuli municipality, where opposition activists tried to storm the polling station; precinct No.90 in Kutaisi, where scuffle occurred outside the polling station, and precincts No. 108 and 79 in the village of Jikhashkari of the Zugdidi municipality, where these two polling stations were raided and polling materials destroyed.
“The assessment of tabulation was more positive. In 46 out of 58 DECs [district election commission] observed, the process was assessed as good or very good,” the international election observation mission said.
Along with long-term and short-term observers from OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the mission also included short-term observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA); the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE); the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA).
OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission has been monitoring campaign period in the lead up of the October 8 parliamentary vote since early September.
The mission said that the campaign was “competitive and largely calm, despite isolated violent incidents.”
“While fundamental freedoms were generally respected and contestants were able to campaign freely, several parties voiced allegations of political pressure on candidates and campaign staff,” the international observation mission said.
The mission said that the election administration and the management of voter lists “enjoyed confidence.”
It also said the media was “pluralistic”, but some broadcasters, monitored by the mission, “lacked balance in their campaign coverage.”