Elections: TI Georgia Final Report on Misuse of Administrative Resources

On December 24, Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local watchdog, released its final report on alleged cases of misuse of enforcement, legislative, institutional and financial administrative resources during Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary elections, covering a period from July 1 to November 22.

TI Georgia noted regarding incidents of election-related violence that as of October 20 police had launched investigations into 59 such cases, of which 6 were terminated and 53 are still ongoing. However, the watchdog said that the Interior Ministry has since not released updated statistics on ongoing investigations.

TI Georgia also noted that the use of water cannons by police without prior warning against demonstrators protesting alleged falsification of election results outside Central Election Commission headquarters was “problematic.”

Noting that precinct summary protocol imbalances triggered suspicions of election result falsification, TI Georgia said “the vast majority of complaints and lawsuits filed by various entities remained either rejected or unshared.”

TI Georgia also said the Prosecutor’s Office was used to discredit the former ruling UNM party. According to the watchdog, the pre-election context, signs of selective approach in investigations and “populist statements made by the ruling party leaders violating the presumption of innocence,” raised doubts that the “Cartographers’ Case investigations served election purposes.

Secret audio recordings involving opposition leaders were also released to discredit the opposition, TI claimed, adding that there is “legitimate suspicion that the recordings were created by Georgian special services and disseminated through foreign websites.”

Noting that the 2020 changes in election legislation “was mostly positively assessed by TI Georgia,” the watchdog underscored “that unfair rules for forming election commissions” still benefit the ruling party.

The watchdog also argued “there was a tendency to use several types of institutional administrative resources,” including the use of state-funded projects for election campaigning, mobilization of public servants, and alleged cases of illegal campaigning.

Highlighting that the ruling party presented “up to 20 socio-economic initiatives” as part of its COVID-19 economic response plan, the watchdog said several of these initiatives “could be categorized as electorally motivated public spending.”

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