Saakashvili supporters rally for early elections

Published in World
Monday, 28 November 2016 12:50

Up to 2,000 protesters attended a rally in Kyiv on Nov. 27 in support of early parliamentary elections and ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s newly-created political movement, called the Movement of New Forces. Saakashvili resigned as governor of Odesa Oblast on Nov. 7, accusing President Petro Poroshenko of blocking his efforts to reduce corruption in the region’s law enforcement bodies, civil service and customs – a claim denied by the president’s representatives. Saakashvili later announced plans to launch a political party in an effort to come to power and replace Ukraine’s political establishment.
The speakers at the rally drew parallels with their movement and the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, which ousted ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, and used EuroMaidan slogans.
The place where the rally was held, the crossing of Hrushevsky Street and Muzeiny Alley, was the scene of violent clashes during the revolution in January 2014. It is also close to the office of Saakashvili’s movement.
“There are so many of us here in this place where citizens took power into their own hands three years ago,” said Denys Brodsky, a former reformist head of the National Civil Service Agency and moderator of the rally. “Right here the nation woke up… Your presence here proves that the Maidan’s cause has not been accomplished. Time is up – the last winter of this parliament is at hand.”
Saakashvili also alluded to Vyacheslav Chornovil, a leader of Ukraine’s 1990s independence movement with whom he had been acquainted, since the rally was held in front of a monument to him.
“We are launching a movement that will change the course of our country’s history,” Saakashvili said. “The oligarchic parliament does not reflect the people’s will, contradicts Ukraine’s national interests and threatens the future of our children.”
He called for changing the electoral law to make it easier for non-oligarchic parties to get into parliament, replacing the discredited Central Election Commission, abolishing parliamentary immunity from prosecution and holding snap parliamentary elections.
“(Those in power) know that a wave is rising that will wipe them from the face of the earth and will release the nation from their tentacles,” Saakashvili said.
He also argued that the fate of both Ukraine and Europe depended on whether the nation got rid of its corrupt elite and carried out reforms.
“Not only Ukraine’s independence is at stake but the freedom of the whole of Europe,” Saakashvili said. “Today Ukraine is an outpost of the free world.
The platform of Saakashvili’s movement, as announced by him, includes “uncompromising reforms, zero tolerance for corruption, a total purge of state institutions, jailing thieves in government, freeing the people and businesses from the regulatory burden, a steep cut in taxes and simplifying tax collection.” Other aspects include “fundamental judicial reform, radical liberalization of the old oligarchic economy, the reform of education, healthcare, and social policy and introducing law and order – at a lightning speed, uncompromisingly and – if necessary – very severely,” he said.
Yulia Marushevska, a Saakashvili ally and ex-head of Odesa Oblast’s customs, also spoke at the protest. She argued that “unfortunately corruption in this country is spearheaded by the president.” President Petro Poroshenko has denied the accusations.
Nazar Nagiev, a veteran of the war with Russia who attended the rally, told the Kyiv Post that “nothing is changing in this country.” “That’s why we decided to support him,” he said. We’re hoping for something new.” He also jokingly suggested sending the whole of the Ukrainian parliament as soldiers to the war zone. “Let them gobble worm-eaten porridge for half a year,” he said. “We, the war veterans, will drive all these scoundrels out.”

The statement of Mikheil Saakashvili

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 14:17

I think that it is incorrect that some of the representatives of National Movement repeat the number 49% , which is “painted” by Bidzina Ivanishvili. This statement was made by the Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.
The ex-Leader claims that the elections were rigged and this is an unprecedented scale in the new history of Georgia.
"In fact, we all know that even approximately 49% is fictional and when they repeat this percent, we make easy the aim of Ivanishvili. The elections were rigged. This is an unprecedented scale of rig in the new history of Georgia. We should take action immediately the new level of political fight to be more important,”-Mikheil Saakashvili said. 


Published in Society
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 15:07

Printing of ballot papers is in the process for the October 30 elections. In total 2 226 600 ballot papers, including ballot papers on Armenian-Georgian, Azerbaijani-Georgian and Armenian-Georgian-Azerbaijani languages, are printed at 50 majoritarian election districts for the second round of Parliamentary Elections. 14 000 ballot papers will be printed for the second round of extraordinary elections of the Mayor of self-governing city; 133 050 ballot papers, including on Armenian-Georgian and Azerbaijani-Georgian languages will be printed for the second round of Gamgebelis extraordinary elections of self-governing communities. As for the by-elections of Lagodekhi and Senaki Sakrebulos 4200 ballot papers are in the process to be printed.
Ballot papers are printed in 5 printing houses (Ltd “Pavoriti”, Ltd “Iridesi”, Ltd “24 Hours MVP”, Ltd “Printmaster” Ltd. “Sezani”). Printing process is observed by the members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia and representatives of the non-governmental organizations (“Public Advocacy”, "Civil Society Development Centre" (CSDC), "Helping Hand", “Center for Social-Political Development”).

PACE to observe the 2nd round of the parliamentary elections in Georgia

Published in World
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 18:58

A 5-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), will travel to Georgia from 28 to 31 October to observe the conduct of the second round of the parliamentary elections alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The delegation will meet leaders of political parties, the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, as well as representatives of civil society and the media, before observing the ballot on 30 October.

A joint press conference is scheduled on Monday 31 October (place and time to be confirmed).

List of delegation members

Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the delegation

Alfred Heer (Switzerland, ALDE)

Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom, EC)

Co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee:

Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia, SOC)

Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE)


Published in Politics
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 09:44

Staff members of Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia conducted another information campaign in Tbilisi. They informed citizens regarding the Second Round Elections of Parliament to be held on October 30. The CEC members during their campaign at the renovated Agmashenebeli Avenue handed the information leaflets to citizens and urged them to participate in the elections.

What observers from intergovernmental organisations have said about the elections

Published in Politics
Friday, 21 October 2016 14:43

Joint Statement by the OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE PA, PACE, NATO PA, and EP: “The 8 October parliamentary elections in Georgia were competitive, well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected.”
Administration of the Government of Georgia – Factsheet on preliminary election results 2/2  Guglielmo Picchi, head of the OSCE PA delegation: “The elections have lived up to our expectations, with voters focusing primarily on the country’s future and getting there through competitive elections.”  
Ignacio Sanchez Amor, special coordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission: “Strongly competitive and well-run, yesterday’s elections offered an opportunity for voters to make informed choices about their options in a pluralistic but polarized media environment.”  
Paolo Alli, Head of the NATO PA delegation: “Georgia has reaffirmed its status as the leader of democratic transformation in this region. […] The conduct of this election is greatly encouraging for all those who support Georgia on its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.”  
Amb. Alexandre Keltchewsky, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term EOM: “Fundamental rights were respected during a competitive campaign and […] the election administration earned the trust and confidence of electoral stakeholders”.  
EU HR/VP Federica Mogherini & Commissioner for Neighbourhood Johannes Hahn: “Election Day generally proceeded in an orderly manner, but tensions increased during the day and several violent altercations took place near and in polling stations. However, voting was assessed positively in almost all polling stations.”  OSCE/ODIHR International Election Observation Mission – Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions: “The elections were managed at all levels in a timely and professional manner. […] All CEC sessions were open to observers, party and media representatives. Throughout the process, the CEC enjoyed a high level of confidence amongst stakeholders.”

The EU welcomed the parliamentary elections in Georgia

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:59

The EU welcomed the parliamentary elections in Georgia, which were held in a generally peaceful and orderly way, reads the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) report of the Council of the European Union.   
The Council of the European Union adopted the 2016 Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) report. The document includes the parliamentary elections in Georgia. Besides some incidents of violence near and in polling stations, the preliminary assessment of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission found the elections to be competitive, well-administered and respecting fundamental freedoms.
“The EU looks forward to working with the democratically elected new parliament and government once the electoral process is complete and calls for all representatives elected to the new parliament to work together in the interest of Georgia”, says the document.
According to the document, the EU will continue to support Georgia's efforts to overcome the consequences of conflict in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including through the activities of the EU Monitoring Mission and the EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia.
The EU will remain firmly committed to its policy of supporting Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognised borders.
“A democratic, stable and prosperous Eastern Neighbourhood will remain a priority for the EU. The EU's approach to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) will continue to build on the principles agreed at the Riga summit of 2015 and stipulated in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) review”, says the report.

Georgian Dream should improve its power with UNM-Atlantic Council Researcher

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 11:10

Georgian Dream should improve its power with National Movement and make less attention on squabbling, the events of the past and look ahead – The researchers of Atlantic Council Lara Linderman said. She talked about Georgia's parliamentary elections and the democratic development of the importance of the process.
“Georgian Dream has won this election. The voters are satisfied. They want the stabile situation and they like the past 4 years. National Movement has also won because it’s main opposition party. As for Republicans and Free Democrats, none of them passed the threshold,”-she said. 

Civil Society Forum calls for free and fair elections across the Eastern Partnership

Published in Politics
Friday, 14 October 2016 17:33
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum has released a statement on the Constitutional referendum in Azerbaijan, the parliamentary elections in Belarus and Georgia, as well as the upcoming presidential election in Moldova and the legislative elections in Armenia, saying “it is imperative for these elections to be free and fair”. 
The statement highlights several irregularities, which occurred during voting in Azerbaijan and Belarus. With regards to the Georgian elections, the Steering Committee appreciates that the ongoing parliamentary election was judged positively by the International Election Observation Mission which included OSCE/ODIHR.
Furthermore, the statement outlined the lack of trust of the Moldovan and Armenian people in their governments, mainly due to the high level of corruption.
The Steering Committee calls on the member organisations of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to do their utmost to implement the principle of free and fair elections and appeals to political parties in the European Union to support free and fair political system in the Eastern Partnership. 
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is a unique multi-layered regional civil society platform aimed at promoting European integration, facilitating reforms and democratic transformations in the six Eastern Partnership countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Launched in 2009 at the Prague Summit of the Eastern Partnership, the EaP CSF serves as a civil society and people-to-people dimension of this initiative aiming to bring European integration closer to citizens of the Eastern Neighbourhood.

Georgia elections competitive and well-administered, observers say

Published in Politics
Monday, 10 October 2016 10:35

The 8 October parliamentary elections in Georgia were competitive, well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected. The otherwise calm and open campaign atmosphere was, however, impacted by allegations of unlawful campaigning and some incidents of violence, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released today.
Election day generally proceeded in an orderly manner, but tensions increased during the day and several violent altercations took place near and in polling stations, the observers said. Voting proceeded in an orderly manner, although counting was assessed more negatively, due to procedural problems and increased tensions.
“Strongly competitive and well-run, yesterday’s elections offered an opportunity for voters to make informed choices about their options in a pluralistic but polarized media environment,” said Ignacio Sanchez Amor, the Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission. “The unacceptable isolated incidents of violence we’ve seen had an impact but, thankfully, did not undermine an otherwise positive election.”
“Yesterday’s parliamentary elections were competitive. Nevertheless, during the pre-election period, there was unacceptable behavior directed towards candidates and voters. Such behavior should never happen. Moreover, there was a substantial imbalance in the funding parties were able to raise, leading to unequal opportunities,” said Emanuelis Zingeris, Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegation. “Before drawing final conclusions on the electoral process, the PACE delegation will closely follow the electoral period leading to the second round, and will wait for the results of that round in a number of majoritarian districts.”
While contestants were able to campaign freely, several parties made allegations of political pressure on candidates and campaign staff. The tone of the campaign between the two leading parties was confrontational and permeated the election atmosphere, the statement says. There were reports of the misuse of state resources and of unlawful campaigning.
“As election observers, we hoped for calm, uneventful elections in which voters focus on the results rather than the process. In many respects, the elections have lived up to our expectations, with voters focusing primarily on the country’s future and getting there through competitive elections,” said Guglielmo Picchi, Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation. “We call for responsible behavior as the country moves forward with the second round of the elections.”
Twenty-five parties and blocs were registered for the proportional ballot and 816 candidates in majoritarian contests. While voters could select from a wide range of contestants, late changes to political party legislation impacted the registration of some parties and the inclusiveness of the registration process. Seven of nine eligible parties met the non-binding gender quota, and there were 143 female majoritarian candidates, the observers said.
“This statement shows that there were some shortcomings in the campaign environment. The big picture, however, is clear: Georgia has reaffirmed its status as the leader of democratic transformation in this region,” said Paolo Alli, Head of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation. “The conduct of this election is greatly encouraging for all those who support Georgia on its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.”
“It is the responsibility of all political actors, but mostly the competent authorities to do everything in their power to defuse tensions, while the role of the media and civil society is to hold them to account, and the duty of the international community is to monitor closely all of these efforts” said Ana Gomes, Head of the European Parliament delegation.
The election administration worked in a timely and professional manner, and there was a high level of confidence in the Central Election Commission among electoral stakeholders. More than half of all election commission members were appointed by political parties. Allegations persisted throughout the campaign that commissions lacked impartiality when appointing the remaining lower-level commission members, the observers said.
Media legislation provides a sound framework for the freedom of media. The media landscape is pluralistic, but individual media outlets are perceived as polarized, and media monitoring showed that some broadcasters lacked balance in their news and current affairs coverage.
The legal framework is conducive to holding democratic elections. Late amendments impacted electoral operations and the campaign. Recent legal changes also resulted in the drawing of new constituency boundaries – aimed at reducing differences in the numbers of voters from one constituency to another – but some significant deviations remain and the legal changes neither set sufficient parameters for determining boundaries nor established procedures for future review, the statement says.
“Our long-term observation showed that fundamental rights were respected during a competitive campaign and that the election administration earned the trust and confidence of electoral stakeholders,” said Ambassador Alexandre Keltchewsky, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission. “Further steps should and can be made to address remaining challenges, both in the laws and in practice.”
There is increased trust and confidence in the accuracy of the voter lists amongst election stakeholders, and election commissions gave voters ample opportunity to verify their information.Amendments to campaign finance regulations only partially addressed past recommendations for a more uniform legal framework and proportionate and effective sanctions for infringements. Partially due to new procedures requiring the State Audit Office to obtain court approval for investigations, campaign finance violations were often not addressed in a timely manner, undermining the effectiveness of oversight.
The Election Code establishes a timely dispute resolution process for appeals of election commission decisions, but limits voters’ right to appeal. Complaints were reviewed transparently by commissions and courts in open sessions. The lack of an expedited deadline for taking administrative action in the case of electoral offenses and insufficient resources for investigations limit the effectiveness of this remedy.

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