Political heavyweights lined up to contest majoritarian seats in Georgian Polls.

The hardly fought election campaign in Georgia is fully under way, characterised by a competitive environment, even though the main opposition bloc remains under what many consider to be, unnecessary pressure.

A feature of this campaign that had been largely missing in previous Georgian elections with a few exceptions is the competitive nature in the part of the elections reserved for majoritarian candidates, namely those contesting for the single member constituency seats that make up nearly half of the 150 person parliament.

The two main political forces, Saakashvili’s United National Movement and Bidhzina Ivanishvili’s opposition “Georgian Dream bloc have both assigned some of their top people to contest the so-called majoritarian seats as their importance in this election has now become evident. More…

Georgians support having more women in politics, but social barriers remain entrenched.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) released a report last week on the Perception of Women in Georgian Politics.

The data presented in the report, titled “Focus Group Findings on Perceptions of Women in Georgian Politics: An Assessment of Perceptions of Women as Political Candidates and Elected Officials” was carried out by the Institute of Social Studies and Analysis (ISSA), a research organisation based in Tbilisi. ISSA conducted eight focus groups of 7-10 participants across the country in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Marneuli to tease out attitudes in Georgian society towards women in politics. More…

Editorial in The Times on 22 August 2012. “Georgia on our mind”

The influential London Times newspaper on 22 August published an editorial on the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in Georgia. We reprint here the editorial in full:

Back in the bad old days, or so it is said, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when apprised of the malefactions of a South American dictator, replied: “He may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” This sentiment was self-defeating enough then, discouraging as it did the development of democracy in regions that have never forgiven the West for its double-speaking. Now it is nearly impossible. It has become more and more difficult for democratic countries to give their wholehearted support to nations and leaders who deny liberty and constrain democracy. More…

Why the London Times is right in saying that the Georgian elections must be fair, and be seen to be fair.

There are less than five weeks left before the much anticipated parliamentary elections in Georgia. The campaign has now started in earnest, the machine of the electoral process is in full swing, and politicians are taking to the streets of the towns and villages in a way not quite seen before. This could and should be, Georgia’s best election ever.

The Georgians have a clear choice between two major political forces – President Saakashvili’s United national Movement and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream Bloc. The two are offering different alternative visions for the country’s future – even if on important issues of foreign affairs the two seem to agree on the most important elements, including Georgia’s pro-western orientation and European ambitions.

The process has however been marred by the attempts of the Georgian government to box in its rival through a labyrinth of laws and regulations that have got little to do with the democratic process, but much to do with an electoral victory by stealth. This not to mention the fact that the main opposition person, Bidhzina Ivanishvili, was stripped of his Georgian citizenship the moment he announced his political ambition. The international and local outcry that ensued resulted in ad hoc legislation being rushed through parliament to allow Ivanishvili to remain in the race – but still without his citizenship. The Georgian authorities may have not fully understood how petty and ill-conceived these steps were perceived by Georgia’s friends overseas. More…

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly says Georgia State Audit Service is “making questionable decisions and imposing harsh penalties without clear or transparent guidelines.”

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has raised concerns about the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia.  A delegation of senior officials from the Assembly today concluded a three-day visit to Georgia aimed at assessing the country’s pre-election climate. Tonino Picula (Croatia), appointed by the OSCE Chair-in-Office to lead the short-term OSCE observer mission, led a delegation, which included OSCE PA President Riccardo Migliori (Italy), Secretary General Spencer Oliver and Director of Presidential Administration Roberto Montella.

The delegation met with a wide range of stakeholders in the upcoming election, including ruling authorities, opposition parties, election administrators, representatives of the media and civil society, as well as members of the international community in Tbilisi. More…

ODIHR Election Observation Mission in Georgia starts its work.

The OSCE has announced that its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has launched its Election Observation Mission ahead of the  1 October Parliamentary elections in Georgia. A statement on the OSCE website says:

“The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election observation mission for the parliamentary elections to be held in Georgia on 1 October.

The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

The mission is led by Nikolai Vulchanov and consists of 15 international experts based in Tbilisi and 28 long-term observers to be deployed throughout the country. In addition, ODIHR will request 350 short-term observers to monitor election-day proceedings and the counting process. More…