ISFED, together with GYLA and TI-Georgia presented a package of priority recommendations for improvement of electoral environment in Georgia. The recommendations derive from the findings of election observation of the three organizations and shortcomings identified in practice during monitoring. The two packages of recommendations cover the issues of political party finance and regulations in the Election Code to improve various aspects related to campaigning, misuse of administrative resources, election administration composition, electoral disputes, etc. The organizations view the package of Election Code recommendations as a set of priority issues that ought to be taken into account prior to the 2018 Presidential Elections, while the campaign finance regulations are aimed at the period of 2020 onwards.
Amendments in the law on Political Unions of Citizens
Party Finance Regulations
- Additional funding for creating a faction should be abolished.
- Base funding of political unions should be doubled.
Amendments in the Electoral Code
To eliminate problems related to electoral blocs, electoral blocs participating in elections should receive benefits on equal basis with political parties that participate in elections individually. An electoral subject, i.e. a single electoral subject should technically become the object of all types of public, direct or indirect funding. Whether an electoral subject is a party or an electoral bloc, as an electoral subject it should be entitled to an equal portion of funding.
Funding for Independent Candidates
A candidate nominated by an initiative group, who receives 10% or more of votes cast in the first round of a majoritarian elections of the Parliament of Georgia or mayoral elections in a self-governing city/self-governing community, should receive a lump-sum payment from the state budget of Georgia for covering campaign expenses of both rounds of elections, amounting to no more than double the amount of votes received by the candidate in GEL.
Composition of Election Administration
The rule on appointment of members by parties in the electoral administration should be amended to ensure that six electoral subjects with best results in the last general elections held under the proportional system are entitled to such right. In addition, each electoral subject should appoint one representative. If an electoral subject is a bloc, its statute should state which party has the right to appoint a representative.
Additional criteria should be established for selecting election commission members, for instance, an individual who served as a member or a candidate of a political party over the last two years should not be selected as a member of election commission; also an individual who served as a party-appointed member of an electoral commission during one of the last two elections.
PEC term of office should begin 10 days before elections.
For incentivizing certification of PEC members those members having the certificate should receive more salaries. After some time, when a significant number of commissioners become certified, all PEC members should be required to have certificates.
Campaigning and Misuse of Administrative Resources
The definition of agitation provided in the Election Code should be further elaborated to define that it also includes dissemination of political calls using one’s personal social media account.
The definition of agitation should also include attending a campaign event, which will resolve the ambiguity that exists with regard to the issue.
The person that organized participation of an alien in agitation should be subjected to liability.
The legislation should draw a clear line between party-related activities and public service. We believe that deputy ministers and governors should not have the right to participate in campaigning without any restrictions.
With regard to charitable organizations it should be established that for purposes of the Election Code, an organization is considered charitable whether or not it is registered with the tax agency as a charitable organization.
Participation of employees of budget organizations in agitation during working hours should be prohibited by law.
It is important to elaborate simplified forms of complaints for appealing to the courts on electoral disputes as there are strict timeframes for electoral disputes.
DECs should take into account final decisions of all levels of court when summarizing polling results.
The Election Code should directly define the possibility to appeal in court refusal of authorized representatives (officials) of the election administration to draw up a protocol of administrative offences.
Not only commission members but also all individuals present at the polling station when the summary protocol was prepared should be summoned to attend the meeting for drawing up amendment protocols the day after Polling Day.
The law should define cases when an electoral commission is required to review electoral documentation and election results, in particular, when in the summary protocol prepared by a PEC, number of votes received by subjects, number of voters or invalidated ballots have been rewritten, or the sum of votes received by subjects and invalidated ballots exceeds the number of voters that participated in elections, or in other cases based on a reasoned decision of the electoral commission.
To ensure more clarity, definition of disruption and interference with functions and activities of the election commission should be provided.
Please find below two packages of detailed recommendations: