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NDI’s Pre-Election Assessment: Largely Orderly but Uncompetitive Campaign Environment
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Oct.'17 / 14:09

Georgia approaches the October 21 municipal elections “in a mostly calm and peaceful environment,” but with “little visible competition or contest of ideas and policies,” the National Democratic Institute (NDI) said in its interim pre-election findings on October 2.

The interim report covers the period from August 29 to September 25 and is based on the assessments of NDI’s fifteen-member observation team, which has visited 59 constituencies across the country, conducting more than 350 meetings and attending several dozen election-related activities as part of the observation mission.

NDI said in its report that “pluralism is an established feature of the Georgian political landscape and voters have a variety of political choices as the October 21 local elections approach.” “The Central Election Commission (CEC) is on course with its electoral preparations. Active civil society observation efforts are underway.”

The mission stated, however, that “to date, there has been little visible competition or contest of ideas and policies.” 

According to the report, the ruling Georgian Dream party "has extensive campaign advertising, received 95% of all campaign donations, and enjoys ample media visibility, including coverage of government achievements and projects,” while “opposition parties explain that a crippling lack of resources prevents them from doing little more than door-to-door campaigning and argue that such an uneven distribution of funds and resources makes the prospect of a robust competition impossible.”

The mission also highlighted the reported incidents of violence in Marneuli and Khobi, saying that while it commends “the overall peaceful nature of this campaign so far, even one act of violence is too many and harms the electoral process.” “It is imperative that the relevant authorities act with speed and integrity to sanction perpetrators ahead of the elections to demonstrate zero tolerance for violent conduct,” NDI added.

The NDI mission will continue to observe and analyze the electoral process in coming weeks. Before Election Day, the mission will also be joined by a high-level delegation of short-term observers (STOs) to assess the Election Day proceedings.

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