Georgian government denies freezing accounts.

The Government of Georgia categorically denies accusations being circulated by the lobbyists representing Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition claiming that the Government has frozen the bank accounts of the Georgian Dream party or affiliated political parties. No party’s account has been frozen.

A statement by the Government of Georgia said that “Georgian Dream has masterminded a complex web of illegal conduits to channel illegal funds to its campaign, bypassing Georgia’s campaign finance legislation. Georgian dream coalition leaders publicly announced that they would not abide by the law several time. More…

PACE rapporteurs say fines against Georgian Opposition “undermine normal political activity.”

The co-rapporteurs for Georgia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Michael Aastrup Jensen (Denmark, ALDE) and Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC) today expressed their concern about the reports that the Georgian authorities have seized the bank accounts of the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, thereby undermining its participation in the election campaign for the parliamentary elections that will take place on 1 October 2012.

A statement published on the website of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe states:

“The excessive and disproportionate fines levied by the State Audit Service effectively undermine normal political activity by an opposition party. This is of concern, especially in the context of recurrent allegations of bias of the State Audit Service and reports by credible organisations, such as the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, that question the fairness of the court decisions in this respect.

The rationale for campaign funding legislation is to ensure a level playing field between all electoral contestants, and not to drive one party or the other out of the electoral race. The upcoming elections, and their democratic conduct, are crucial for Georgia’s democratic development. We therefore call upon the Georgian authorities to demonstrate maximum restraint and to ensure that all parties, including the Georgian Dream Coalition, can participate fully in the electoral campaign” they added.

The two co-rapporteurs will visit Georgia on 11 and 12 September 2012 as part of the pre-electoral mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

source: CEW with www.coe.int

Georgian NGOs condemn the lack of impartiality of the State Audit Service and accuse it of “irreparable damage to the election environment in Georgia.”

The “This Affects You Too” campaign, a coalition of democracy advocates and civil society activists from across Georgia, have appealed to the international community to pay more attention to the campaign environment in the South Caucasus nation. With the rejection of the appeal made by billionaire leader of the opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate, former footballer, Kakha Kaladze, to overturn what they deem unlawful fines, This Affects You Too is turning up its international game plan. This Affects You Too has publicly questioned the impartiality of the State Audit Service (SAS) in Georgia, arguing that the SAS has demonstrated its allegiance to the ruling party as opposed to a free and democratic Georgia. In a statement released this week, the election-monitoring coalition has called the work of the SAS “too subjective” and “aimed at [harassing] opposition parties” – pointing to the particular attention the SAS is paying to the Georgian Dream coalition. The report continues that while the SAS, at first, was at least trying to cloak their activities as objective, at this stage the SAS, according to the This Affects You Too report, does not even bother to feign impartiality. The report cites the fact that despite serious allegations of vote-buying, illegal campaign contributions and the abuse of administrative resources that have surfaced against the ruling party, a disproportionately small amount of cases have been opened, let alone pursued, against the governing United National Movement in comparison with those brought against the opposition. More…

YAP positioning itself ahead of next year’s presidential poll in Azerbaijan.

YAP Deputy Executive Secretary, Siyavoush Novruzov MP

With the Presidential elections set for October 2013, the ruling party of Azerbaijan, the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) is feeling out its competition.

Aydin Mirzazade, a Member of Parliament for YAP, told Gun.Az that the YAP considers “every candidate to be a rival” for next year’s elections. The YAP MP assured the press that the ruling party will take steps to ensure all candidates can participate and campaign in the election. Commenting on incumbent President, and YAP’s unofficially confirmed presidential candidate, Ilham Aliyev’s democratic record, Mirzazade noted that with Aliyev’s candidacy, Azerbaijan will continue on a democratic path of economic growth and stability for the next five years. In conclusion he said that YAP does not consider itself weaker or comparable to any other party.

Ramping up the rhetoric, Deputy Executive Secretary for the YAP, MP Syavush Novruzov, declared that the ruling party considers the “unification of [the Azerbaijani] opposition in one team as impossible.” More…

Why one man, one vote means something different in Georgia.

With the publication of the voters’ list ahead of the 1 October parliamentary election the glaring difference in the size of constituencies, and the impact that it may have on the result of the elections has become only too obvious. Despite the fact that this issue has been highlighted many times by the international community, particularly the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE no remedial action has been taken.

According to the data that has been released by the Central Elections Commission of Georgia there are 3,621,256 voters. Whilst all voters have one vote the importance of this vote varies depending on the constituency. Whilst 77 MPs are elected on a proportional party list, the other 73 are elected through single member constituencies. The size of these constituencies varies enormously with some having only a few thousand voters and others exceeding 150,000 voters. More…

Who’s going? Who’s staying? Who’s coming?

Although attention is currently focused on the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia on 1 October, discussions in international circles are increasingly focussed on the three Presidential elections in the South Caucasus, scheduled to be held in 2013. Armenia will elect its President in February and Azerbaijani in October. The Georgian Presidential election is also due next year.

The three countries, different as they are, have one thing in common in their modern political history. No President has ever left office because he was defeated in an election. They were either forced out or died in office. In Armenia in 2008 the incumbent, Robert Kocharian left office at the end of his two terms. The constitution in Armenia and Georgia allows a person to hold office for only two terms. It was the same in Azerbaijan, but the constitution was changed after the last election, thus enabling the current President Ilham Aliev to run for a third term. As things stand therefore there should be at least one change of president next year, in Georgia, since the current President has already had two terms in office. More…