PACE Observers: Pre-electoral Environment Generally Appropriate, Still Room for Improvement

A five-member delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) visited Georgia on September 19-20 to assess the pre-electoral environment ahead to the October 28 Presidential Elections.

The delegation, led by German MP Andrej Hunko from the Unified European Left group (UEL), said “the general environment was appropriate for democratic elections,” but “there still was room for improvement and that the period of time left until Election Day should allow at least some of these improvements to be realized.”

The PACE delegation called on all stakeholders “to contribute towards a genuinely democratic election campaign based on mutual respect,” not to misuse administrative resources during the election campaign, and to ensure “complete transparency concerning the campaign financing of all candidates.”

In its statement, PACE also said the delegation was informed by interlocutors that the media landscape is polarized in the country and that there are “allegations of hate speech and of personal attacks against candidates, led by certain media outlets and on social media.”

The observers “strongly hoped that such attacks would come to an end and urged all media to rather focus on candidates’ political programmes and give them a balanced representation, even though there are a large number of candidates.”

The delegation also added that the Central Election Committee (CEC) “acted professionally and was preparing the election well.” However, criticism concerning the selection of some members of lower election bodies, “which led to suspicions of nepotism and/or political interest, should be taken seriously into account, in order to increase public trust in the election administration at all levels.”

In Georgia, the PACE delegation met with the Interior Minister, the CEC Chairperson, presidential candidates, representatives of civil society and media, as well as the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission and foreign diplomats based in Tbilisi.

PACE plans to send a 33-member delegation to observe the vote on the Election Day.

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