06:05, Thursday, 22.10.2020
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Pre-election campaign started – preparations for the presidential elections


 Lana Giorgidze

Pre-election campaign officially started from August 29. 35 candidates applied to the Central Election Commission for the registration in the 2018 Presidential Elections; they were nominated by the election subjects and initiative groups.

CEC spokeswoman Ana Mikeladze held a briefing about the presidential elections and clarified major restrictions and responsibilities of the candidates in accordance to the national legislation.

“As for the pre-election campaign or agitation, restrictions and prohibitions over the misuse of administrative resources, they will go in force 60 days before the election day. In accordance to the national legislation, from August 29, the pre-election campaigns in favor of or against any candidate is prohibited during any state-funded events.

Besides that, the law prohibits the individuals, who are not banned to participate in the pre-election campaign, to involve their employees in the activities, which contributes to the nomination or election of any candidate.

Also, the law prohibits misuse of administrative resources, conduct of pre-election campaign during working hours or when performing professional duties. The law estimates that if it was not preliminary envisaged in the budget, large-scaled projects shall not be commenced, which were not planned previously. At the same time, the law prohibits rise in pensions, allowances during pre-election period unless it was preliminarily envisaged in the state or local budget,” Ana Mikeladze said.

She additionally clarified that local self-government bodies also have some obligations. Namely, they shall allocate spaces for each candidate to conduct their pre-election campaign. The buildings-spaces shall be available for all candidates equally. 

The CEC spokesperson Ana Mikeladze said  on August 29 for the purpose of composing the PECs, a contest was called to select the members for 3 637 election precincts at 73 District Election Commissions (DEC). In total, a competition was announced for the 21 822 vacant positions.

“According to the legislation and the competition rule, six PEC members are elected by 12 members of the relevant, upper DEC by a majority vote of the total number of members through roll-call voting, but no less than seven votes. PECs launch their activities a month ahead to elections, including weekends and holidays.

Georgian election legislation defines the specific requirements and rules during the process of electing PEC members. Based on the competition’s rule, Georgian citizen at the age of 18, who meets the legislative requirements may apply to the relevant DEC from August 29 to September 6. They should send the application and the copy of the identity card at the DEC e-mail or bring them in person at DEC”, stated Ana Mikeladze.

At the same time, the CEC spokeswoman called upon the persons having important electoral experience and/or have undergone the electoral education programs to participate in the competition to support ensuring successful and professional elections. The Commission calls on electoral stakeholders including media, local and international observers, and political parties to observe the process of electing PEC members, which will support the conduct of high level, transparent and credible elections. The CEC also addresses the media outlets to support dissemination of the mentioned information to the society.

Civil society actively observes the pre-election environment before the statement of the CEC.

“Assessment of the experience from the previous elections is important to evaluate current pre-election period. Previous years revealed miscarriages in the election law, that caused incompliance between the law requirements and individual interpretation of different norms,” Mariam Zakareishvili, lawyer at Human Rights Center, said.

She added that it is essential not to discredit election subject. 

“Much attention is paid to social networks in the current presidential elections, for the purpose of dissemination of negative information about election subjects that is unhealthy competition,” Zakareishvili said.

According to the HRC lawyer, the organization has been monitoring the elections for years and produced special reports, which revealed election violations and delivered recommendations to respective bodies. 

HRC calls on the election administration: to select the commission members in accordance to impartial and transparent criteria; the complaints shall be considered in accordance to the law and in transparent manner; the CEC shall ensure healthy, safe environment and fair competition between election subjects and analyze and implement recommendations of international organizations.
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