Study: Parties Largely Ignore Campaign Code of Conduct

The Story

Political parties that adopted the campaigning code of conduct last September – under much international pressure – have violated it 300 times during the run-up to the elections.

How do we know this?

The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP), a think tank, analyzed statements from all leading prime-time talk shows on 20-30 October, interviewed the activists and experts.

The full study is available here (pdf).

What did they find?

  • Party speakers rarely spoke about programs or policies: More than half of their statements had nothing to do with either, one-third was touching upon programs and policies, while only 10-15% was dedicated to promoting their policy points.
  • The leading parties spoke about programs/policies the least: 65% of statements from the Georgian Dream speakers and 68% from the United National Movement were not related to their programs or policies.
  • Those who spoke about their policies have fared poorly in elections: Movement Lelo, Strategy Agmashenebeli, and European Georgia spoke about their policy stances more than others but tanked in polls.
  • Party leaders were more likely to use offensive language against their opponents, in violation of the Code.

What else is new?

Using offensive language and making ungrounded accusations against opponents is the daily fare of the Georgian politics and this study proves it, but also gives some curious details:

  • The European Georgia leads the pack of offensive speakers, rather closely followed by the United Movements and the Georgian Dream.
  • Georgian Dream, UNM, and European Georgia were excelling in mud-slinging, but the ruling Georgian Dream was more often on the receiving end of accusations and blame – being one (ruling) party against nine opposition ones affects these statistics.

Was it worth it?

Researchers suggest developing and adopting the Code of Conduct was still worth the effort – not least because it helped analyze the party conduct against its provisions. If the Code of Conduct holds, while the media and public hold the politicians more accountable to it, things might start changing for the better. If they want to go seriously about it, the parties must ensure their activists know about the Code and convince their leaders to be more polite and statesmanlike. But we all have our homework: if the voters don’t reward good behavior and keep voting for those who partake in mud-slinging and brinkmanship, the Code of Conduct alone won’t change the incentive structure.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian)