This statement is issued in response to the process of the 2021 Municipal Elections. Despite the fact that the existing legislation and the recent election reform have created conditions for carrying out elections of high democratic quality, it is unfortunate that the lack of political will on the part of the ruling party has made us miss out on this important opportunity. In terms of technical administration, Election Day was conducted mostly in accordance with the rules established by the law. However, the irregularities identified by the local and international observation missions during the pre-election period and in the process of voting and vote counting on Election Day have had an unequivocally negative impact on the expression of voters’ free will and public confidence in the electoral process and election results. Given a small margin of victory in some of the municipalities, these irregularities may have affected the results.
It is unfortunate that the problems of misuse of administrative resources, dismissals on political grounds, using public servants for electoral purposes, and resorting to pressure and intimidation are still topical in the context of the pre-election period and the election day. A marked financial advantage of the ruling party is obvious, achieved, among other factors, as a result of alleged corruption schemes. The law enforcement bodies often fail to respond to specific violations. In most cases, the investigations which they launch proactively are electorally motivated and aim to emotionally manipulate voters on the election day. The actions of individual officials of the election administration raise valid questions about their political neutrality. Unfortunately, public institutions are not trying to create an equal electoral environment for political parties and the line between the ruling party and the government is effectively non-existent.
Currently, public trust in public institutions is extremely low. All branches of power, including the judiciary, are politically controlled by the ruling force. In these conditions, it is becoming increasingly difficult to use legal mechanisms to ensure a legal response to irregularities committed during elections and to objectively determine the degree of their impact on the electoral process. At no point during the political crises did the ruling party demonstrate a real will to share power. Its withdrawal from the 19 April agreement is a clear example of this as well. Moreover, the statements made by the leaders of the ruling party in the run-up to the elections point to the contrary – its determination to prevent the loss of its political control over any political institution. The quality of carrying out the Municipal Elections and their results are an explicit confirmation of this declared goal.
It is unfortunate that the Municipal Elections of low democratic standards might cause further polarization of the public. In this situation, maintaining the unity of the public will become more difficult and the events might unfold in the direction of a civil confrontation. We call on the ruling party to change the current policy and take concrete steps towards uniting the public instead of dividing it. Maintaining the current policy will prevent the progress and development of the country. It is in the hands of the government to ensure the consolidation of the public and the country’s European future, the prospects of which are becoming increasingly vague in the conditions of the prevailing policy.
Transparency International Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy – ISFED
Open Society Georgia Foundation – OSGF
Media Development Foundation – MDF
Economic Policy Research Centre – EPRC
Georgian Democracy Initiative – GDI
Partnership for Human Rights – PHR
Society and Banks
Social Justice Centre
Georgia’s Reforms Associates – GRASS
Georgian Institute of Politics - GIP
Human Rights Centre -HRC
UN Association of Georgia
Atlantic Council of Georgia