Senior Georgian Dream Lawmaker, CSOs Spar Over PVT Row

Head of the International Society For Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Elene Nizharadze said on December 14 that the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the election administration are the ones that should apologize for the existing political crisis, given that they conducted October 31 elections with violations, failed to address them, while also refusing to provide the public with answers on said wrongdoings.

ISFED Head responded to MP Irakli Kobakhidze, senior Georgian Dream lawmaker, who today called on key election watchdog to apologize over “spreading grossly wrong data and aiding revolutionary scenario of the radical opposition.”

MP Kobakhidze also slammed the civil society outfit over two “wrong” statements in ISFED’s revised PVT statement, including the one on changed results not affecting number of mandates received by the parties and the second, over summary protocol containing disbalances in 8% of polling stations.

The ruling party whip asserted that GD would receive four less parliamentary mandates based if initial PVT results were true, and demanded Nizharadze to release a list of polling stations where an excess of ballot papers were found.

The ISFED Head in response stated that revised PVT results, based on solely the proportional vote, do not indicate different distribution of the parliamentary mandates. Nizharadze also noted that the final vote tallies, including those with disbalances, are in the hands of the election administration.

In a parallel turn of events, Eka Gigauri, Head of Transparency International (TI) Georgia, another principal election watchdog, slammed MP Kobakhidze for falsely accusing TI of also conducting the PVT count and concealing results as they matched with official election administration data.

Highlighting that the watchdog did not conduct the PVT count at all, Gigauri accused the GD executive secretary of a deliberate campaign to discredit civil society organizations.

MP Kobakhidze later conceded his mistake, noting that he received “exhaustive information” about election monitoring activities from TI Georgia. GD Executive Secretary welcomed CSO’s “openness” and thanked its Head Gigauri for providing relevant information.

ISFED released revised parallel vote tabulation results on December 11, showing an increase in GD party’s vote share from an initially counted 45.8% to 47.7%. The watchdog said it discovered following an internal audit that it had mistakenly included invalid ballots in counting during the initial parallel vote tabulation.

But the PVT row between the Georgian Dream and the watchdog started days before publishing revised data, as based on leaked information MP Kobakhidze hinted ISFED’s mistake during his December 9 briefing. GD MP then claimed the opposition manipulated ISFED’s PVT data – the remarks were condemned by ISFED itself, accusing him of attempts to discredit the organization.

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