According to the joint assessment of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International - Georgia and Georgian Young Lawyers Association, the reform implemented by the Parliament is not based on a comprehensive analysis of the Election Code and concerns only some of the issues, - this reads the report published by non-governmental organizations relating to the changes made to the electoral legislation in December 2022.
"In March 2022, Georgia submitted an official application for EU membership, and in June, the European Council demanded that the Georgian Government fulfill 12 conditions of the European Commission in order to receive candidate status. One of the conditions was related to election issues, according to which Georgia had to solve all the problems identified by the OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe/Venice Commission.
In order to fulfill this recommendation, a working group was created in the Parliament of Georgia, in which a part of the parliamentary forces did not participate, and the involvement of civil society organizations was artificially limited by the parliamentary majority. In October 2022, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the draft laws in the first reading, which provided for amendments to the Election Code and the organic laws on Political Unions of Citizens. On October 10, the Chairman of the Parliament sent the draft laws to the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR and asked them to prepare their opinions in an accelerated manner.
On December 19, the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR published their opinion on the sent draft laws. Based on these recommendations, the Parliament made some changes to the draft laws, which were finally adopted on December 22 in the third reading. According to the assessment of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International - Georgia and Georgian Young Lawyers Association, the legislative changes respond to a number of problems identified by both local civil organizations and the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, which should be evaluated positively. However, these changes did not fully take into account all the essential recommendations, including some of the recommendations that the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR presented in December 2022. The reform implemented is not based on a comprehensive analysis of the Election Code and only concerns some of the issues," reads the information published by non-governmental organizations.
According to the report, the essential recommendations of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR, which were not reflected in the amendments, include “the incomplete regulations for the election and extension of the powers of the CEC chairman and professional members, as well as the possibility of deprivation of political parties of their budget funding, which is unfair and does not comply with international standards. In addition, repeated recommendations related to the election of professional members at the lower level of election commissions and the transparency of this process were not taken into account. The Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR in their joint report also emphasized that the amendments failed to respond to important challenges such as the use of administrative resources, voter intimidation, insufficient criteria for recounting votes and invalidating results. According to the assessment of the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, it is necessary to implement a comprehensive and inclusive electoral reform in the future, which will be based on a complete and in-depth analysis of the problems in electoral legislation and practice," reads the information.
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