Key Election Watchdog Responds to GD Whip’s Controversial PVT Remarks

In a statement of December 10, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), key election watchdog in Georgia, reacted to December 9 remarks by Irakli Kobakhidze, ruling Georgian Dream party’s executive secretary, who accused the opposition of manipulating ISFED’s Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) results.

According to ISFED, Kobakhidze’s remarks aimed to mislead the public and discredit the organization, and also served to distract from “important and more problematic issues related to the 2020 parliamentary elections.”

The watchdog said it had performed a multi-level audit on the PVT outcomes and will be presenting an interim report in the coming days, which will include both audit results and main findings regarding the 2020 polls.

MP Kobakhidze, who led the GD campaign and will be the party’s whip in the new Parliament, claimed in his statement that “radical opposition” had intensified its attacks against international institutions. In this context, he referred to the opposition’s “gross manipulation” that allegedly affected PVT results by ISFED – which he characterized as “an NGO supported by the U.S. and Europe”.

According to the ruling party secretary, this unspecified PVT manipulation was intended to form “the key pillar for the revolutionary plot [of the opposition]”. In doing so, Kobakhidze argued, the opposition put “the reputation of the entire [NGO] sector at risk”.

He claimed, that a parliamentary commission established by GD will prove, that the “real” PVT results were consistent with the results of the Central Election Commission, pledging to provide additional details later.

ISFED presented the preliminary PVT results on November 1. They broadly coincided with the official results, but the largest gap was in the share of votes received by the ruling Georgian Dream party, where the official results exceeded the PVT outcomes by some 3%. In addition, ISFED referred to irregularities of the precinct commissions that in its early estimate could have affected the results by a maximum of 4.1% and called for reviewing and rectifying these.

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