OSCE Election Observation Mission Publishes Interim Report
13 September, 2012

On September 10, the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights published the interim report No 1 of the upcoming Parliamentary Elections of Georgia. It comprises the period of 22 August and 5 September and consists of 13 parts. The topics are: Legal Framework and Electoral System, Election Administration, Voter Registration, Registration of Candidates, Campaign Environment, Campaign Finance, and Media. The executive summary starts with the information that the election day ( 1 October)

was called by The President Mikheil Saakashvili on August 1. The report reads that “according to CEC (Central Election Commission), preliminary Voter Lists currently include 3,621,256 voters. “ It also reads that the main contester of the United National Movement, ruling body, is Georgian Dream, a Coalition of six opposition parties, headed by Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire who announced of his decision to enter politics on 7 October 2011.

“The campaign environment is polarized,” says report, however, it adds that “the OSCE/ODIHR EOM has been monitoring the campaign coverage by the media since 30 August during primetime on eight TV Channels and two newspapers. A “Must Carry, Must Offer” provision obliges cable networks to include all TV Channels in the Broadcasting package, including pro-opposition channels, for the duration of the campaign.” The Introduction chapter says that OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission commenced its work on 22 August with a core team of 16 experts in Tbilisi and 28 long-term observers deployed throughout the country, the members of which are drawn from 26 participating countries.  The mission is headed by the Ambassador Nikolai Vulchanov. In the Background part, it is mentioned that in the outgoing parliament, 119 mandates out of 150 belonged to United National Movement, while the United Opposition held 17 mandates, the Christian-Democratic Movement and The Labour Party 6 mandates each, and Republican Party – 2 mandates. In line with the 2010 constitutional amendments, some Presidential Powers will be transferred to the Prime Minister and Government, transforming Georgian Presidential System into a semi Parliamentary one. These changes will come to force only after 2013 Presidential Elections.

As already mentioned, the campaign environment is polarized. The report reads that it is characterized by the frequent public exchange of accusations and allegations among political adversaries.  “Parties and blocs cite education, healthcare, employment, regional development, agriculture, security, social welfare and rehabilitation works after the heavy storms in July among the main campaign topics.

In the chapter of media, the report writes: “The media environment is characterized by diversity, although media outlets remain divided along political lines and few outlets succeed in pursuing a more independent editorial policy. The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and two private channels, Rustavi 2 and Imedi, are the only TV stations with nationwide coverage. The latter two are widely perceived as supportive of the government. The coverage of private channels, Kavkazia, Maestro and the recently reestablished, Channel 9, are all broadly regarded as pro-opposition, and are mostly limited to Tbilisi and satellite networks. Recent amendments to the Electoral Code have introduced ‘Must Carry, Must Offer’ provisions, obliging cable networks to include all national media outlets with satellite broadcasting license and those that reach over 20 per cent of the population in their distribution list. Channels are also obliged to make their content available to cable networks for transmission. These provisions apply only during the campaign period and cover some 194,000 households with access to cable TV.

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