OSCE PA, ODIHR…are they the same, Not quite!

Toninu Picula

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has announced that a delegation headed by its President Riccardo Migliori, will visit Tbilisi on 20 August on a pre-election fact-finding mission. He will be accompanied by the Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Tonino Picula, who will head of election observation mission of the Assembly in Georgia in October and by Assembly Secretary General Spencer Oliver.

Picula, who served as the foreign minister of Croatia from 2004 to 2008, has extensive international election observation experience. He has previously led the OSCE election observation missions to Russia in 2012, Kazakhstan in 2011 and Moldova in 2010.

There is already a lot of confusion in the Georgian media about the different roles of the OSCE PA and ODIHR in the election observation process and very little sign that these roles are being properly explained. ODIHR which is supposed to provide long-term observation and deploy hundreds of observers is normally the main instrument of monitoring. The Parliamentary assembly provides the political clout for the OSCE monitoring effort. In theory! In practise the process does not always work so seamlessly.

source: CEW

Saakashvili: “It is the moment of truth.”

As campaigning swings into full gear, the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), places itself at the mercy of the public, as incumbent President Saakashvili describes the upcoming parliamentary elections as a referendum on the government. Speaking at a campaign stop in the region of Imereti on Tuesday 14 August, President Saakashvili called the 2012 Parliamentary Elections “a Moment of Truth.” “Each of us should ask ourselves one very simple question – it’s a moment of truth – Is Georgia now a better country than it was eight years ago?” Saakashvili told villagers of the Terjona and Zestaponi municipalities in Imereti region. “If the answer is positive,” he continued, “and if we want to have [an] even better country, we should all stand together – that’s our offer.” More…

Over 3.6 million Georgians on Voters’ List, voting status for Georgians living abroad in limbo.

Georgian CEC Chairman Zurab Karatishvili drawling lots for the position of parties on the ballot paper at a recent CEC meeting.

The Georgia Central Election Commission (CEC) has released the preliminary version of the voters’ list for the parliamentary elections set to take place on October 1, 2012. The total, 3,621,256, is the highest recorded figure since the fall of communism. Until now, the highest number of voters registered in Georgia was recorded in May 1991 as 3,594,810 voters, for the first Presidential elections following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then the voters’ list has swayed steadily between 3.1 and 3.14 million through the 1990s, climbing its way back up to 3,544,770 for the May 2010 municipal government elections. More…

US congratulates Armenia as the second most active civil society in the Former Soviet Union.

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern, released a video blog last week congratulating Armenian civil society on their effective and non-violent activity; noting that Armenian civil society is getting “stronger and … more effective every day.”

According to a recent USAID assessment, the ambassador informed us that Armenia has the second strongest civil society among the republics of the former Soviet Union. Noting the “vital” role civil society plays in a healthy democracy, Heffern pointed to the increased activity of civil society groups in Armenia in promoting positive change. More…

Less than seven weeks before the Georgian elections: BUT WHERE IS ODIHR?

The crucial parliamentary elections in Georgia are less than seven weeks away. Campaigning ahead of the tense 1 October poll started in earnest two weeks ago when President Saakashvili named the date. In fact political activity had been going since last May and few doubt that this is going to be a crucial election which will define Georgia for many years to come.

Months ago both the Government and the main opposition forces asked ODIHR to deploy election monitors as soon as possible. A formal invitation was also extended by the Georgian Foreign Ministry in accordance with OSCE procedures. Less than seven weeks ahead of the poll however the Mission has not yet arrived. More…


The opposition Georgian Dream Coalition in Georgia has warned that the Central Elections Commission may stop it using the No7 slot on the ballot papers during the forthcoming elections. In a statement to Embassies and International organisations on 11 August  the Coalition said that it had information that the CEC would give a restrictive interpretation to the elections legislation to prevent it taking the slot. More…