Civil.ge continues publishing its weekly election digest, a news compilation covering the political party campaigns, election procedures and other pre-election developments, as well as related political happenings, ahead of the October 21 municipal polls.
The second digest covers the developments of past week (September 11-17).
Race for Tbilisi - Labor Party joins the race:
- Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labor Party, presented Giorgi Gugava, the party’s political secretary, as mayoral candidate for the upcoming municipal elections in Tbilisi. Speaking at the presentation held outside ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s private residence in Tbilisi’s Sololaki neighborhood on September 14, Natelashvili said that the capital city should have a mayor, who will not allow the rule of billionaires in the country.
Electoral Programs - Aleko Elisashvili, Kakha Kaladze present priorities:
- Aleko Elisashvili, who has named transport, environmental protection and urban development as his priorities, held a presentation of the first component of his electoral program on September 14 near the entrance of the Akhmeteli metro station in suburban Tbilisi. Elisashvili noted that the metro should become the “backbone” of Tbilisi transport system, adding that tram lines should be developed in places without metro stations. Elisashvili also focused on the problem of parking, pledging to terminate the contract with CT Park, the company with a 15-year exclusive right to manage parking in Tbilisi (until 2022);
- The ruling Georgian Dream’s mayoral candidate, Kakha Kaladze, held a presentation of one of his seven electoral priorities - the urban development policy. At the presentation, Kaladze unveiled the rehabilitation plan for Old Tbilisi. He also addressed the urban developers: “under my tenure, not a single construction permit will be issued at the expense of reducing green spaces, parks, playgrounds, cultural heritage and public spaces.”
Party Campaigns/Presentations: parties continue candidate presentations; Republicans nominate first openly gay candidate:
- Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili presented Georgian Dream’s mayoral candidates in Adjara and Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti regions of western Georgia;
- The European Georgia presented its mayoral candidates in the self-governing cities of Kutaisi and Rustavi, as well as three municipalities in Imereti, six municipalities in Kakheti, one municipality in Kvemo Kartli and one municipality in Samegrelo;
- The Development Movement named Tbilisi Sakrebulo candidates in Didi Digomi and Temqa single-mandate constituencies;
- On September 15, the Republican Party presented the second five-member cohort of its party list for Tbilisi Sakrebulo. Nino Bolkvadze, who is number seven in the party list, is LGBT rights defender and the first openly lesbian candidate to run in Georgian elections.
Party Campaigns/Rallies: ultranationalists seek answers from Kaladze; the Alliance of Patriots activists go on hunger strike:
- The group of several ultranationalist organizations and individual activists united under the “March of the Georgians” movement held a small-scale rally in downtown Tbilisi on September 12. The protesters, who accused the ruling party of selling the agricultural land to “aliens,” picketed the campaign headquarters of Georgian Dream’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze calling on the former energy minister to disclose his position on land sale exemptions. The protester’s unsuccessful attempt to burst into Kaladze’s campaign headquarters ended with the administrative detention of Lado Sadgobelashvili, one of the organizers of the rally. The participants of the March of the Georgians announced that the group would hold rallies in future as well;
- On September 17, the Alliance of Patriots, which has six members in the Parliament, held protest rallies in Tbilisi and Batumi. Activists and supporters of the opposition party marched from the Rose Revolution Square in Tbilisi towards the Parliament building. On the same day, 17 party activists went on open-ended hunger strike. Among others, the Alliance of Patriots demands introduction of the trilateral Georgian-NATO-Russia negotiation format, as well as launching direct dialogue with the Abkhaz and South Ossetians.
Election Monitoring and Violations - OSCE observation mission in Georgia; ISFED on illegal agitation; the Audit Office summons donors:
- On September 13, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) opened the election observation mission in Georgia. The mission consists of a core team of 14 experts based in Tbilisi and 22 long-term observers, who will be deployed throughout the country in teams of two from 20 September. In addition, ODIHR will also send 350 short-term observers, who will arrive several days before the Election Day;
- The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization, filed two complaints to the Central Election Commission, expressing its concern over the facts of agitation in Kakheti and Adjara by officials and government agencies in favor of the ruling party;
- The State Audit Office said it summoned 14 individual donors, with six having donated to the European Georgia and eight - to the Georgian Dream, saying it has questions about their incomes. According to the filings with the State Audit Office, which is in charge of political finance monitoring, the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party received total of GEL 7.34 million in donations in a period from July 1 to September 13, 2017. The Movement for Liberty - European Georgia party, which split from the United National Movement in January 2017, is the second largest recipient of donations with GEL 323,675. The remaining nine parties received only 1% of total donations.
Election Administration - party and candidate numbers set:
- On September 11, the Central Election Commission assigned election numbers to 30 electoral subjects, including 24 parties, 5 election blocs and one initiative group. Deadline for assigning the election numbers was to expire on September 22, but upon the CSO recommendation, CEC completed theprocedure earlier.
For earlier pre-election developments please refer to Weekly Digest No. 1.