Armenia’s voters list causes controversy.

The voters list has once more emerged as one of the main problems connected with Armenian elections. Opposition activists accuse the Armenian government of artificially inflating the voter’s list by several hundred thousand voters as part of organised election fraud. The issue is somewhat more complicated, but many questions remain.

On 25 April 2012 the Armenian Passports and Visas Department (PVD) of the Armenian Police, the entity that is responsible to compile the country’s election list, published the names of those entitled to vote in the May 6 elections. The list had 2,482,238 names. After some adjustments in the days prior to the elections, the final election list on the eve of the election included 2,484,003 names.

This figure immediately triggered an outcry from opposition parties who questioned how there could be in 2012 more than 150,000 additional voters in Armenia then in 2008, when it was common knowledge that the population of the country had decreased as a result of outward migration during the recent economic crisis. More…

Elections cycle in the South Caucasus kicks off to a wobbly start.

Over the next eighteen months the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, will conduct important elections that many consider will determine the future of the individual countries and of the region, and most certainly will decisively impact their relations with Europe.

The cycle kicked off on May 6th with Parliamentary Elections in Armenia. Parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for October. Next year will see the three countries voting in Presidential elections.

The region has a history of troubled and contested elections, and whilst some polls have been better than others, many observers feel that there has not been a single election, since the three countries regained their independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that fully met international standards. This situation continuously raises questions of legitimacy around the three governments, and has been a matter of concern to European Union and US officials, who are keen to increase relations with the region and see this situation as a major obstacle. More…

Saakashvili’s solemn promise 2

Georgian President  Mikheil Saakashvili has repeated his committment to hold free, fair and transparent parliamentary elections in the Autumn. Addressing a meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Economic Forum in the Georgian Black Sea Port of Batumi, Saakashvili described the committment as important for the country’s future security.

“We would like a large number of international observers, including from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to come before the elections,” Saakashvili said. “We want to get their advice before the elections. The advice will enable us to improve the pre-election sphere to conduct the most transparent elections.” The Georgian President said “we are ready to cooperate with international institutions and will do everything to hold just elections for no one to have any questions.”

The Georgian President also said that Russia had decided to conduct large military exercises in the Caucasus region close to the Georgian elections . The President said that for these reasons the elections are very important, “on the one hand, for Georgian credentials, but they also have a huge security dimension.”

source: CEW

Armenian National Congress (ANC) asks Constitutional Court to annul elections

The opposition Armenian National Congress, an alliance of opposition political parties and groups headed by former Armenian President Levon ter-Petrossyan, has petitioned the Armenian Constitutional court asking that the results of the 6 May elections according to the proportional system be annulled because of election irregularities. Earlier several ANC candidates had also addressed the court with similar appeals for cancelling the results of the elections in a number of single seat majoritarian elections. The President of the Constitutional Court has asked judges to review the cases, according to a court spokesperson.

source: CEW

Georgia’s ruling United National Movement pushes ahead with progressive amendment to lower the minimum age for running for parliament.

Parliament of Georgia

Georgia’s ruling party, the United National Movement, is pushing ahead with a constitutional change that will bring Georgia in line with progressive European countries.An initiative of the UNM aims at revising the Constitution of Georgia by lowering the age at which one can stand for a parliamentary seat from 25 to 21 years. The public discussion period for draft amendments has concluded, and a discussion on the results of these meetings took place in Parliament on May 7, where it was recommended that the initiative enter the standard legislative process. More…

Persistent reports of intimidation of opposition activists in Georgia’s regions.

Georgian media has over the last weeks carried a string of reports of intimidation, by officials of local authorities, of opposition supporters in Georgia’s regions. There are also reports of violence against opposition activists.

Rezonansi newspaper and other media outlets have reported the dismissal of more than twenty school teachers in the Shida Kartli region due to their support of opposition parties, or as in the case of Gori School teacher, Ia Bzhalava, because her husband was an activist of the opposition Free Democrats.

The web site Democracy and Freedom (DF) Watch also reported the case of Giorgi Beruashvili, former employee of Privat-Bank in Kareli, a village in Shida Kartli, who was fired only because his sister and mother were attending a Georgian Dream meeting. He told DF Watch that he was considered as one of the bank’s most valued employees before that presentation, and no one had ever mentioned that he was in danger of being fired. But the day after the presentation, he was told that he was fired, because ‘members of his family think in an opposition way.’

Tsisana Javakhishvili says she was the only biology teacher at the public school in the village Nikozi near Gori. She was fired only because she held different views; her husband participated in the local elections in 2010, representing the Free Democrats. The official reason for her firing was lack of experience. But it later emerged that the headmaster directly told her she had to leave her job because of the political views of her husband, because ‘he didn’t need an oppositional [person] at school.’ More…